Care homes COVID-19 guidance

Monthly care home huddles

Run by the local NHS and the council, these huddles offer care home managers an opportunity to receive updates on COVID-19 from a clinical lead and to ask questions.

The huddles run on the last Weds of the month at 11am.

If you would like to attend a huddle, submit questions or access previous recordings, email: esxccg.carehomehuddle@nhs.net


Capacity tracker

Care homes should update the capacity tracker regularly (preferably daily) with the following information:

  • Vaccination uptake: It's important to regularly update the tracker with details of first and second doses for care home residents and staff. All staff should tell their manager when they have had the vaccine (whether first or second dose), particularly if they were vaccinated outside of the care home setting.
  • Business continuity and vacancy questions: Complete both these sections at least once a week and preferably daily.

Help to use the Capacity Tracker

The Capacity Tracker has a ‘Help’ section with a short video and guidance that will answer most questions. For any other questions, phone the national help centre on 0191 691 3729 or email necsu.capacitytracker@nhs.net.


Admission and care of residents in a care home

This guidance sets out how to admit and care for residents safely, and protect staff in care homes:

Admission and care of residents in a care home - GOV.UK

Limiting staff movement between settings

Care home providers should limit staff movement between settings, to help reduce the spread of infection, see:

Restricting workforce movement between care homes and other care settings – GOV.UK.


Visits in and out of care homes

Visitors to care homes

Guidance on care home visiting – GOV.UK sets out how visits can take place within care home premises. It is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents are vaccinated before conducting visits.

  • Every care home resident can have ‘named visitors’ who can enter the care home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of ‘named visitors’ that a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day.
  • Named visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum (excluding essential care givers). Physical contact like hand-holding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed.
  • Close personal contact such as hugging presents a higher risk. It will be safer if it is brief contact between people who are double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact.
  • Care homes can continue to offer visits to friends or family members through outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods, or from behind windows.
  • Individuals notified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should not visit care homes. They may visit in exceptional circumstances, such as when a resident is nearing the end of their life.

There is separate guidance for supported living and extra care settings.

Visits out of care homes

Visits out of care homes – GOV.UK applies to visits where the resident leaves the care home premises. It gives advice on self-isolation and arrangements for care home staff accompanying residents out of the care home.

Care home residents do not need to self-isolate following a transfer from another care facility, or after a planned overnight stay in hospital, subject to a risk assessment.

Residents who are admitted to a care home after an emergency overnight stay in hospital must still self-isolate for 14 days.

Individual risk assessments should take into account:

  • the vaccination status of residents, visitors and staff, including the extent of second vaccinations
  • any testing of people accompanying the resident or those who they intend to meet on their visit
  • levels of infection in the community
  • variants of concern in the community
  • where the resident is going on a visit and what activities they will take part in while on the visit
  • the mode of transport that residents intend to use

Where a care home is situated in an area with high or rapidly rising levels of infection, or there is evidence of variants of concern or variants under investigation, care home managers should seek additional local advice from Public Health.

In an outbreak, all movements out of a care setting should be minimised as far as possible

If you have further questions please email your local Public Health team for advice: publichealthenquiries@eastsussex.gov.uk


Medicines

Reuse of medicines

The government has published a standard operating procedure (SOP) on how to run a safe and effective medicines reuse scheme in a care home.

Faster medication orders for care homes

Care homes can order repeat prescriptions online for their residents via proxy access to the resident's GP online services account. For a guide to the process, visit: Ordering medication using proxy access - NHS.


Reporting an outbreak of COVID-19 in a care home

If your care home has a COVID-19 outbreak, you need to follow the advice on reporting new outbreaks.


PPE

For information on PPE for care homes, see: Care homes - PPE guidance


Vaccinations

To find out how to book your vaccination or booster, see Vaccinations for health and social care staff.

Mandatory vaccination for care home staff

From 11 November, care home staff must be fully vaccinated. See Mandatory vaccination of care home staff for more details.

Include vaccination status when transferring residents 

Care homes should include vaccination status on transfer documents when transferring residents to NHS settings.


COVID testing

COVID testing – care homes gives information on testing staff and residents.

Test and trace explains what to do if there are issues with your test kits and how to create QR code posters for your care home. It also gives information on how to pause the contact tracing app to prevent false positives being sent to Test and Trace while you are at work.


Urgent clinical support through Starline

All CQC-registered care homes can sign up to access Starline for urgent medical advice. It gives fast access to a range of clinical care professionals by calling via NHS 111 and dialling *6.

Visit East Sussex CCG to find out more and sign up.


Enhanced Health in Care Homes

Enhanced Health in Care Homes (EHCH) is an NHS initiative which aims to strengthen support for the people who live and work in care homes. 

It is expected to bring many benefits including:

  • fast and easy access to healthcare professionals including access to a named primary care lead, care home matron (or equivalent) and pharmacist providing Structured Medication Reviews
  • clinical assessment within seven days of admission or re-admission to a care home
  • access to wider community services and specialist services through multi-disciplinary teams

There was a presentation about EHCH at the East Sussex care home huddle on 3 June 2021. If you missed it, you can view the slides.

Enhanced Health in Care Homes: A guide for care homes gives more information on the programme.

If you have any questions, email: isobel.warren@nhs.net