Testing for visitors (including care partners) to care homes

Many people with coronavirus (COVID-19) have mild, or even no symptoms, but can still spread the virus. With regular self-testing we can slow the spread and help protect the most vulnerable in care homes and communities.

The Chief Medical Officer,  in June 2021 Dr Michael McBride, announced the introduction of a programme to offer visitors to care homes in Northern Ireland the opportunity to self-test for COVID-19 using Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests prior to visiting in care homes.

Visiting is a central part of care home life and is crucially important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life for residents and their friends and families.

Testing is optional and visiting will not be restricted if you choose not to take the test, however it is hoped that where possible, visitors will participate in this programme.

You can find more information about self-testing for COVID-19 for visitors to care homes at the links below;

For packs of 7 tests (Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) COVID-19 Self-Test (Rapid Antigen Test) (nose and throat)) to find out how to prepare for the test and how to use the LFD test kit, please see the gov.uk guide and video at: How to do a coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow test at home - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)  

The GOV.UK website has information on different brands of lateral flow test. The test used in NI Health and Social Care is the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) COVID-19 Self-Test (Rapid Antigen Test) and the instruction materials online are titled Throat and Nose test.’ 

 You must register ALL test results, whether negative or positive, by using the following link – www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result

Remember to include the care home Unique Organisation Number (UON) when registering your result (add link below – Reporting Lateral Flow tests at home)

If your result is positive you need to register it using the above link AND report any positive results to the care home.

As of 5th January 2021 you no longer need a PCR test to confirm your positive lateral flow test result. This is being kept under review. See NI Direct for further guidanceCoronavirus (COVID-19): self-isolating and close contacts | nidirect

If you have any further questions, please speak to the care home manager for guidance.

Remember, if at any time you develop any of the symptoms of COVID-19 – a new continuous cough, or a high temperature, or a change in your sense of taste or smell – book a PCR test immediately.

You can find more information about self-testing for COVID-19 for visitors to care homes at the links below;