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COVID-19 updates for adult social care and health providers

COVID-19 testing

For a round up of national guidance see Getting a test in East Sussex.

National care home testing service feedback

You are invited to provide feedback on how you’ve found the national care home testing service.

Complete the care homes feedback survey to let the Department of Health and Social Care know what’s working and what’s not working with the care home testing service.

Any time you have an issue with testing, or a suggestion for an improvement, please feed this back into the survey.

Summary of COVID-19 testing available in Adult Social Care settings

In order to identify positive cases and continue to monitor the effects and transmission of coronavirus, we must continue to operate a thorough and meaningful testing programme, even in settings where vaccines have been administered.

On 24 March the Government published a summary outline of the COVID-19 testing available for testing staff, residents and visitors for all adult social care settings. See Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for adult social care settings.

This short summary includes the following:

Care homes (page 2 to 5)

  • Regular testing cycle for residents and staff
  • Outbreak testing for residents and staff
  • Family and Friend Visitors
  • Visiting professionals
  • Testing for people being admitted to a care home from hospitals or in the community (page 9)

Extra Care and Supported Living settings (page 6)

Home Care Testing (page 7)

Day Care Centres (page 8)

Guidance clarification: testing arrangements for named visitors at care homes

The Department for Health and Social Care would like to clarify that all named visitors at care homes should be tested at the care home on arrival. The guidance states that:

Rapid lateral flow tests must be done onsite in line with current MHRA guidance, due to the type of test kit care homes receive. At this time visitors cannot self-test at home, however work is underway so that in the coming weeks, care homes will receive tests for visitors that are approved for self-test. At that point, visitors will have the option for tests to be conducted at home, or to use the result of a test taken in other settings. Care homes will receive further communications from NHS Test and Trace about this. However, until this time, visitors must continue to test onsite.

Further information is available at Guidance on care home visiting.

COVID-19 testing for homecare workers

The guidance setting out how homecare agencies in England can order regular tests for their domiciliary staff has been updated.

All registered homecare agencies will be contacted with details of how to apply for test kits for their carers. Homecare agencies will be responsible for ordering and distributing tests to all homecare workers for them to conduct at home on a weekly basis.

For more information on homecare agency testing, you can sign up to DHSC’s webinars which are hosted every Tuesday and Thursday.

Updated guidance: COVID-19 testing for professionals visiting care homes

Following feedback, the Covid-19 testing for professionals visiting care homes guidance was revised on 11 March. This guidance strengthens the existing approach for testing professional visitors to care homes in order to reduce risks from visits from professionals.

The key changes are:

  • The default position is that without a negative test, the professional should not be allowed into the care home (unless in an emergency, unless overridden by the care home manager following a risk based decision, or unless their entry is required by law such as CQC inspectors).
  • For NHS professionals, care homes should see evidence from the professional of a negative rapid lateral flow test within the last 72hrs, which shows they are following the NHS staff testing regime.
  • As per the previous guidance, professionals who are not part of regular testing for NHS staff or CQC inspectors (for example professionals such as podiatrists or engineers) will need to be tested at the care home in the same way as visitors.
  • If they are visiting multiple care homes in one day, they will now only need to be tested at the first care home they visit that day and can use evidence of this test at the next care home they visit that day.
  • CQC inspectors will now test at home using a lateral flow test on the day of a care home inspection, in addition to their weekly PCR.
  • Like care home staff, visiting professionals are exempt from testing for 90 days following a positive PCR test, unless they develop new symptoms.

The guidance provides further details and outlines the different forms of test evidence.

This guidance should be implemented as soon as possible but we also understand that professionals and their employers will need time to get to grips with practical issues, such as how they will provide evidence to care homes. Therefore, this guidance should be implemented by care homes and professionals by 22nd March if not before.

Symptom-free testing for COVID-19 (LFD)

Symptom-free COVID-19 testing using lateral flow devices (LFD) is now available within the community.

Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus have no symptoms and can spread the virus without knowing. Regularly testing people who aren’t displaying any of the signs of COVID-19 is an important addition to the fight against the pandemic and returning to life as close to normal as possible. Regular testing is still recommended if you have had the vaccine.

These tests are for anyone who must leave home for work and who are not already covered by another testing programme. If you are already covered by a workplace testing programme, please continue to access tests in that way.

If you do not have symptoms and are not already covered by another testing programme, here are some of the ways you can access regular symptom-free testing:

As with the vaccine, testing of people without symptoms is not a replacement for other COVID-19 secure measures. All national restrictions must still be followed and good hand hygiene, wearing face masks and continued social distancing should be adhered to.

COVID-19 testing for care homes – Government updates

New spreadsheet for organisations to register COVID tests from 26 February

For services that use the governments organisation testing registration portal, there is a new version of the record-keeping (bulk upload) spreadsheet to use from 26 February, available at GOV.UK.

You can register up to 100 tests on the spreadsheet. You will need to complete separate spreadsheets for staff and non-staff.

Lateral flow device (LFD) portal – for care homes

All LFD results (negative, positive and void results) must be registered. DHSC will follow up with care homes where results are not reported. Register the result at: Report a COVID test result – GOV.UK.

You can set up an account to register LFD results. Find out how access test kits and step-by-step guides on how to use PCR and rapid lateral flow test kits for regular and outbreak testing of residents and staff at Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in adult care homes - GOV.UK.

If an individual tests positive with an LFD, they must take a confirmatory PCR test. Your home has been provided with additional PCR tests for this purpose, which come with Royal Mail return labels. Affix these to the confirmatory PCR test kit and send it via your nearest priority post box.

You can select a courier slot at a convenient timeThe collection windows are:

  • Morning (9am to 1pm)
  • Afternoon (2pm to 4pm)
  • Evening slots (6pm to 9pm) are for specialist Ministry of Justice locations only.

You can only book one slot a day.

There is also a regional cap for each daily collection window. Once these are full the option to book will no longer be shown. However, you can book a slot 28 days in advance, so please book in advance to avoid being capped.

If you wish to cancel any collections, call the contact centre on 119. Please cancel a booking if you no longer require the slot so it’s available for another organisation.

Regular testing for adult day care centres

Weekly PCR home testing is being offered to adult day care centre workers. To be eligible, day care centres need to be deemed critical to open during lockdown by local authorities. Services must be run by paid staff, be for adults over 18 and provide non-residential care settings that support the health and wellbeing of adults. This includes:

  • purpose-built day centres
  • day centres attached to or part of a care home or supported living
  • other buildings in communities specifically used for regular adult day care

See: COVID-19 testing for adult day care centres – GOV.UK for more details.

Guidance: When care home staff test positive

Any staff member who receives a positive test result (via a LFD or a PCR) or who displays symptoms should not work and must isolate at home, without exception. They cannot continue to work in any capacity, even with residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been vaccinated.

They must not work until they have fully completed their isolation period and are confirmed negative with an LFD test on their return to work. Staff who have been vaccinated must also follow this guidance if they display symptoms. If you require any assistance on this, please contact your local authority.

See NHS self-isolation and treatment page for the latest guidance on isolating after displaying symptoms, or receiving a positive test result.

If staff begin to display symptoms at work, they should put on a mask, immediately leave and take a PCR test. This test should be conducted through the NHS testing programme, at a walk-in or drive through test centre, or by applying for home testing. If the staff member cannot access these channels and can take a test using one of the tests at your care home without coming into contact with any staff or residents, then this may be used as an exception.

To access urgent symptomatic testing, see: Check if you have coronavirus – GOV.UK

Care home staff can take LFD tests at home

Care home staff can take and register their twice weekly LFD tests at home, before they arrive to start work. This only applies to care home staff and not to other settings in adult social care.

Care homes should ensure:

1. Staff understand the LFD process for testing:

Read the guidance on self-testing using LFD.

Complete the online training. This training videos last about 15 minutes and are followed by a competency assessment.

Take the training
Input this token to access: 3wkcVi4UTX

2. All LFD test results are logged in the system. Care home managers are also required to set up a system to track LFD completion.

3. Replenish stock of LFD test kits

The government has launched an online replenishment portal which allows you to place orders for LFDs. You should continue to order regular PCR kits for staff and residents as per usual and only order from this portal if you require more test kits.

Reporting new outbreaks to Public Health England

If you have a NEW suspected case of COVID-19 among your residents or staff, contact the local Health Protection Team in Horsham on 0344 225 3861 (hold then option 3).

They will facilitate rapid testing of all staff and residents as a priority.

Testing frequency

We strongly encourage you to continue with the routine weekly testing of staff and monthly testing of residents to enable identification of asymptomatic cases. Public Health England do not recommend anyone who has had a positive COVID-19 virus (PCR) test result to be re-swabbed for at least 90 days – unless they develop new symptoms.

Testing clients for COVID-19

Whole care home testing

Whole care home testing is available for all adult care homes (both for people aged under 65 and over 65). This includes those with learning disabilities or mental health problems, regardless of whether residents have symptoms. You can apply for coronavirus tests for a care home on the government online portal.

Information on testing for care home residents and workers can be found in the guidance on coronavirus testing.

If a care home needs to be prioritised for testing, please register on the portal then email ascpersonalisation@eastsussex.gov.uk explaining the reasons your home needs to be prioritised.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight STP have produced a set of  FAQs relating to whole care home testing [27.9 KB] [docx].

Testing clients entering care settings

Social care staff can request a test for clients entering care homes and other care settings which require a negative COVID-19 test before admission. To request a test for a client, email the Central Booking Team on sxccg.covidtestingreferrals@nhs.net with the following details:

  • Client’s name
  • Contact name for booking process
  • Mobile number for above person

The named contact will be phoned by a member of the team to discuss the arrangements for the test. This service is available seven days a week.

Testing clients living in the community

Home care providers, personal assistants and other community workers who wish to arrange testing of clients with symptoms of Coronavirus should visit Get a free Coronavirus test – NHS.

Testing for people who are not on the electoral register

If someone has symptoms of COVID-19 who is homeless or a rough sleeper and is not on the electoral roll, please email sxccg.covidtestingreferrals@nhs.net with the following information:

  • Client name
  • Date of birth
  • NHS number
  • Address
  • Your contact details or the contact details of someone to liaise with to the confirm the details of the test.

Alternatively, if you’re concerned a number of clients may be symptomatic, phone Public Health England on: 0344 225 3861 (hold then option 3).

If an individual has tested positive then we would expect test and trace to come into effect for those who were in contact with the known case.

If you have any questions, or are having other difficulties accessing testing, email publichealthenquiries@eastsussex.gov.uk.

Testing staff for COVID-19


All key workers or household members of a key worker who have developed the onset of symptoms in the past 8 days can be referred for testing. Workers must inform their organisation by day 7 at the latest and book a test within 24 hours to ensure a swab is taken within 8 days.

Asymptomatic staff can request a test if they work in a care home and they are not required to self-isolate under current government guidelines as a test and trace contact or because they have returned from abroad.

The individual must have an appointment before attending a key worker testing service or they will be turned away.

How to book a test for a member of staff

If a member of staff is self-isolating, check they meet the eligibility criteria above. If they agree to be tested, complete the COVID-19 test booking form [54.9 KB] [xlsx] and email it to sxccg.covidtestingreferrals@nhs.net

The central booking team will contact the person being tested directly to confirm the date, time and location of the test.

The individual will receive their results within 72 hours. They’ll need to inform their employer of the outcome. If anyone does not have their results after 72 hours they can contact:

  • Key worker coronavirus testing service desk on 0300 303 2713 (7am to 5pm daily).

Testing for Personal Assistants

See the Personal Assistants page to find out how to book a test if you are a PA.