Pilot for family members to get regular testing for safer care home visits

Family and friends to be able to regularly visit loved ones in care homes as a new testing pilot is launched.

Family members or friends of those living in care homes will be given regular testing to reunite them with their loved ones in care homes as a new pilot launching today.

The pilot is taking place in around 20 care homes across Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon from Monday and will be rolled out more widely in December.

Regular testing will be offered to one family member or friend per resident, which – when combined with other infection-control measures such as PPE – will support meaningful visits.

These will enable, where possible, indoor visits without a screen to take place while reducing the risk to care home residents, staff and visitors.

Visitors will be offered either PCR tests which they can do at home, or the new 30-minute rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs), which can be administered in person at care homes before a visit.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time.”

The government says the pilot been made possible due to expansion in the country’s testing capacity, which currently stands at over 500,000 per day, although the testing capacity of the country has fluctuated throughout the pandemic.

Each care home receiving LFTs will receive a box of 675 initially and will be given access to more as required.

It will further develop the evidence base for how rapid testing can be delivered at scale and, if successful, will be rolled out in a phased way across the country.

Exact details of the national roll-out will be published in due course and will be guided by the pilot. It is anticipated the LFTs will be used across the country to support rapid access.

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