The Government has announced a new pilot that will see friends and family members of some care home residents in Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon offered regular COVID-19 tests.
The pilot, which if successful could allow regular care home visits by a designated visitor, is taking place in around 20 care homes across the three counties from today. The aim is to roll it 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.
‘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,’ said the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock.
‘Thanks to the expanding testing capacity we have in place we can now begin to trial a new way to allow safer visits to take place and prevent the spread of COVID-19. I must stress this is only possible if the public takes the right actions now to bring the transmission rate under control while national restrictions are in place.
‘By respecting social distancing and staying at home as much as possible we will help reunite families and friends with loved ones in care homes as quickly as possible.’