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COVID-19 updates for adult social care and health providers

Test and trace

Test and Trace Support Payment scheme

For more information of this scheme, including the full eligibility criteria, see Test and Trace Support Payment scheme: claiming financial support – GOV.UK.

Self-isolation period

The self-isolation period for anyone with symptoms, or those who have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive, is 10 days (since December 2020).

119 Test and Trace contact centre

If you have any questions about testing, registering your kits, couriers or results please call the dedicated Test and Trace contact centre on 119. Lines are open from 7am to 11pm daily, seven days a week. This has replaced the gov.uk ‘COVID care home testing’ email address.

  • 119 can only investigate missing test results where there are ten or more missing results.
  • Call 119 if your care home has run out of kits before it is eligible to place the next order.
  • 119 can book urgent replacement couriers if your courier did not arrive and will escalate any other concerns. Never dispose of used test kits because the courier did not show up.
  • It is critical that all barcodes in each test kit are identical, so that registration data and results are correctly associated with the right person. Before using your test kits, check that all four barcodes (found on the vial, the bag, the box, and the loose barcode for your records) match. If not, do not use the test kit. Call 119 to inform them of the issue and order replacement kits.

Test and trace app use by staff in care homes

The contact tracing part of the test and trace app is designed to identify when two people (using the app) have been near to each other long enough for COVID-19 transmission to occur if one person is infectious and the other person is susceptible. The app could cause false alarms if you leave the contact tracing app on when you are not with the phone, or when you are wearing PPE, and the phone is near someone who has tested or later tests positive for COVID-19.

To avoid being alerted about being a contact of someone with confirmed COVID-19 when you are not at risk, please pause the contact tracing element of the app if you:

  • bring your phone to work but leave it in a locker or communal area while you are elsewhere in the home. This is so that the phone does not register contacts when you are not near it.
  • carry your phone with you during your work and you are wearing medical grade PPE such as a surgical mask. This is so that the phone does not register contacts when you are protected by PPE.
  • you are working behind a fixed Perspex (or equivalent) screen and are fully protected from other people.

Find out how to pause the contact tracing app.

Test and Trace QR codes

The NHS COVID-19 app has a check-in feature which enables a venue to register for an official NHS QR code and allows users to ‘check-in’ to participating venues on their app by scanning that code.

Care homes should have a QR code poster at the entrance so that visitors can scan on entry. Care homes are also recommended to have QR code posters in waiting rooms and recreational areas that are regularly attended by external visitors and guests. If there are different restaurant and café areas within a large care home, they should each have their own QR code. The posters can be created online for free.

You should continue to maintain any visitor registration system that you already have in place, especially as the app doesn’t work on some older phones.

Test and trace guidance

Test and trace: how it works guidance supports the NHS test and trace service for England. The additional guidance below clarifies the process if care staff come into contact with someone who has been identified by the NHS test and trace service as a positive case.

  • When someone tests positive for COVID-19 (known as a positive case), they will be contacted by the NHS test and trace service and asked to provide information about where they have been recently (in last 48 hours) and who they have been in contact with.
  • If the positive case works in or has recently visited a care setting, they will be referred to the local public health experts – currently this is Public Health England (PHE).
  • The local PHE team will work to identify whether care staff identified by the case are considered to be contacts or not. The PHE team may need to get in touch with care staff who are identified by the case as possible contacts to find out further information about the nature of the contact. For example, by asking questions about the length of time, type of activity undertaken and whether care staff were wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Where a staff member has been wearing appropriate PPE while caring for a person who has symptoms of, or has tested positive for COVID-19, in the overwhelming majority of cases the member of staff will not need to self-isolate.
  • Where a staff member has been caring for a person who has symptoms of, or has tested positive for COVID-19 while the staff member was wearing appropriate PPE, but the PPE has been breached; OR
  • If a staff member has been in contact with anybody else who has tested positive for COVID-19, whether at work (most likely a colleague in communal areas) or in the community without wearing PPE, the member of staff will need to isolate for 10 days (note: this period was previously 14 days, and changed to 10 on 14 December) in line with the advice to the general population. This advice should be followed regardless of the results of any antibody testing. A positive antibody result shows previous exposure, but it is currently unknown whether this means the person is immune or protected against future infections.
  • Care staff should engage if they are contacted by the NHS test and trace service or the local PHE team, proactively stating their job role and any PPE used during the period of time they are asked about as part of the contact tracing process.
  • Care staff should also inform their manager if they are called by the NHS test and trace service/local PHE team and inform them of the advice they have been given.

To enable the contact tracing approach to work effectively and avoid unnecessary isolation, it is vitally important that all staff continue to follow social distancing of 2 metres, hand hygiene and PPE guidance. This includes not taking breaks together in close proximity, not sharing cars to work where possible, and wearing face masks whilst working in communal areas.