The Department of Health & Social Care has written to care home providers in England warning them of the risk of a rise in coronavirus cases in the care sector.
A report published on Friday by the Government revealed that cases of Covid-19 are increasing steadily across the country with evidence of cases doubling every seven to eight days.
In response, the director of adult social care delivery, Stuart Miller, wrote to care home providers to alert them to what he described as ‘the first signs this rise is being reflected in care homes too.’
‘I am writing at the earliest opportunity, so we can work in partnership to prevent further spread of the disease. The rapid flow of data and information, to and from care providers, is vital to this effort,’ he said.
‘We would not be in a position to respond so quickly without your vital input to the capacity tracker and the domiciliary care tracker and your committed efforts to implement regular testing. By sharing this alert, we hope local organisations can now take the necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks.’
Mr Miller’s letter emphasised the importance of testing and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
He said that all care home staff, including bank and agency staff, should be tested every week regardless of whether they are showing any symptoms.
‘We recognise that rollout of the repeat testing programme for care homes was unfortunately delayed,’ he wrote.
‘However, tests have now been delivered to all care homes for older people who registered for regular testing and the portal is now also open for care homes for working age adults to register for repeat testing. At present, we have no significant backlog and are able to send out test kits within several days of orders being placed.
‘We encourage care homes that have not yet registered for repeat testing to do so. If for any reason you have not registered to receive the most recent set of tests for which you are eligible, please do so, and please be sure to use tests you have received in line with the guidance.’
‘Please be aware that care homes do not automatically receive their next round of regular testing and so each care home needs to reorder towards the end of each round of testing. Care homes are able to reapply 21 days after their last order,’ he added.
Mr Miller also urged care home workers to follow the Public Health England (PHE) guidance relating to PPE.