Testing in care homes and hospices (including visitor and care partner testing)

COVID-19 Isolation & Testing Guidance for Care homes, 27 July 2022

The following letter outlines updates to isolation & testing guidance for care homes for the following situations:

  1. Management of staff working in care homes who have COVID-19 symptoms;
  2. Isolation and testing of residents in care homes who are close contacts of COVID-19;
  3. Testing of residents prior to admission to care homes from community settings either for permanent or short stays including shared care and respite.

COVID-19 Testing and Isolation guidance update letter

For ease of reference, Table 1 at the end of this letter sets out where testing and isolation pathways for care homes have changed and where existing testing guidance remains.

Care Homes

Group

Guidance effective from Monday 25 April 2022

 

Care Home Residents

 

No regular programme of asymptomatic testing for residents.

 

Permanent Care Home Staff

 

 

 

LFD testing to be undertaken twice weekly.

LFD tests should be taken 3 to 4 days apart, pre shift. If a member of staff is only working 2 days per week, they should take a LFD test on these days before beginning work.

 

 

Agency Staff

 

 

Should follow the same testing pattern as care home staff if working in a single care home for an extended

period of time.

LFD test before commencing each shift in any new home if moving between homes.

 

 

Nominated Care Partners

 

Test Type:

SureScreen nasal only test kits.

 

Should follow the same testing pattern as care home staff.

 

 

Visitors

 

Test Type: Orient Gene or ACON Flowflex nasal only test kits.

 

Should undertake twice weekly LFD testing.

 

Care homes

And

Hospices

Visiting Professionals (HSC and non – HSC)

 

Test Type: Orient Gene or ACON Flowflex nasal only test kits.

Should undertake twice weekly LFD testing.

 

 

Hospices

Permanent Hospice Staff

(Agency staff should follow the same testing pattern)

 

LFD testing to be undertaken twice weekly.

LFD tests should be taken 3 to 4 days apart, pre shift. If a member of staff is only working 2 days per week, they should take a LFD test on these days before beginning work.

 

 

Visitors

 

Test Type:

Orient Gene or ACON Flowflex nasal only test kits.

Should undertake twice weekly LFD testing.

 

 

Patients in Hospices (As per guidance in place prior to 22nd April)

  • On admission patients should have a PCR test using PCR in pillar 1
  • Testing subsequent to admission should be based on a clinical decision

 

Symptomatic Testing (updated 5 May 2022)

1.  Residents with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 should isolate and take a PCR and a lateral flow device (LFD) test immediately.

If either test is positive the resident should isolate in line with current guidance.

If the LFD test is negative, continue to isolate and await PCR result. If PCR test is also negative, there is no need to isolate unless a strong suspicion remains that the individual could be COVID-19 positive. In such cases a second PCR should be sought. If this is also negative, a clinical assessment by the resident’s GP should be sought to determine any potential alternative diagnoses. If clinician feels COVID-19 is likely despite negative PCR tests, then treat as COVID-19 positive. Otherwise manage as per alternative diagnosis.

2.  Staff members who have COVID-19 symptoms should take a lateral flow test at the onset of symptoms (day 0) and take a further LFD test 48 hours later (day 2) if the first test is negative. If symptoms begin at home (off-duty), they should not attend work while awaiting both lateral flow test results. If symptoms begin at work, they should inform their line manager and return home as soon as possible.

 All positive tests should continue to be notified to the PHA Health Protection Duty Room on 0300 555 0114.

Testing in an Outbreak

The protocol for testing during an outbreak was updated on 5th May. Letter outlining guidance available here.

From Tuesday 21st June, PCR testing for COVID-19 in an outbreak scenario moved back to Pillar 1. Please contact your local HSC Trust care home team for test kits and support. Letter outlining guidance available here.

Please continue to report all positive cases to the PHA Duty Room who will continue to provide advice on what further action to take whether an outbreak is declared or not.

Ordering LFT kits with your UONPlace an order of COVID-19 tests online.

If you have queries about LFT orders call the National Testing Programme Helpdesk freephone on 119. 

If you need additional support, please email: regulartesting@hscni.net