Care homes across the country are to be given access to a £149m grant to support the roll out of rapid coronavirus testing.
As part of the effort to combat the new, more transmissible, strain of COVID-19, care home staff will be asked to take rapid tests twice a week, in addition to the weekly PCR test they already receive.
The grant will pay for care home providers to set up safe testing areas, provide staff training and contribute towards staff time spent on administering and receiving the tests.
‘We have worked throughout the pandemic to protect staff, and residents in care homes and today we are boosting rapid testing in care homes, with a further £149m pounds to support that effort,’ said the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.
The minister for care Helen Whately commented: ‘Our priority is to keep care home residents and staff safe, and we have been working hard to make the most of our testing capacity to help people reunite with loved ones as safely as possible.
‘Now in the face of this new strain, which spreads much more quickly, we are increasing testing in all care homes to help protect those most at risk. This £149m grant will give care homes the tools and support they need to test staff regularly and safely reunite families kept apart because of COVID-19.’
Responding to the announcement, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, said that social care staff have been on ‘the frontline’ throughout the pandemic and deserve ‘all the protections they need to continue to do their incredible work.’
‘It is vital that this funding reaches councils promptly in the new year, so that they can work with care providers in their areas to roll this out as practically and safely as possible,’ Cllr Hudspeth continued.
‘We continue to call for a long-term, sustainable settlement for adult social care, to help secure the future of care and support through this pandemic and beyond.’