Care Homes Can Now Test All New Residents For Coronavirus

The change in guidelines comes after HuffPost UK revealed elderly people were forced to lie about symptoms so they could be tested and admitted.

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Care homes have been given access to coronavirus testing for all new residents after HuffPost UK revealed some people were forced to lie to obtain a negative test result that would allow them to enter residential care.

Previously, tests could only be accessed by people in the community if they had coronavirus symptoms, but care homes were reluctant to admit people unless they could provide a negative result.

HuffPost UK heard the story of one woman who was advised by her GP and social worker to lie about her 97-year-old mother having symptoms so she could get a test that would allow her to enter respite care if the result was negative.

On Friday, government guidelines on care admissions were changed to ensure all those entering homes get tests, to stop the disease spreading among the elderly and vulnerable.

Care home managers have been told that individuals “should be tested” if they are going into residential care and have not previously been tested within two days of admission.

Homes will get access to so-called “pillar 2” testing – swab testing for the wider population, which was previously only available for people with symptoms.

Managers will also be able to use local testing capacity “or an alternative as they see fit”.

If they believe “pillar 1” testing, normally reserved for those with a clinical need, health and care workers, is more appropriate, they can contact their local public health director.

If the test is positive, the care home manager should inform the individual’s GP and, if they have already been transferred to the care home, the local health protection team as they would with any symptomatic individual in their home, the new guidance says.

The government has been severely criticised for its policy on care homes in the early stages of the pandemic, following the deaths of thousands of residents.

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Munira Wilson earlier on Friday wrote to care minister Helen Whately demanding a change in guidance.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive at Care England, had also called for community testing to be “prioritised”.

Reacting to the news, Wilson said: “We know testing is vital in reducing the spread of Covid, and this could not be more important than across care settings where many vulnerable groups reside.

“It’s right that the government is making changes to ensure no one slips through the net when it comes to testing, but it begs the question as to why it has taken so long for this guidance to be issued.

“Liberal Democrats will continue to demand that the prime minister launches an independent inquiry to learn the lessons of this dreadful pandemic.”


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