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

There are new restrictions on visiting arrangements in care homes because of the Omicron variant:

  • Every care home resident can nominate up to 3 visitors. This number doesn’t include essential caregivers or pre-school age children.
  • Changes to testing arrangements for staff and essential caregivers: 3 lateral flow tests a week and a weekly PCR test.
  • Testing or self-isolation following visits out of care homes.

Visitors to care homes

Visitors:

  • should receive a negative lateral flow test result and report it on the day of their visit; essential caregivers need to follow additional testing requirements  
  • who are not legally required to self-isolate are advised against visiting the care home for 10 days if they have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, even if they have been fully vaccinated
  • should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated and have received their booster

Visits out of care homes

Residents should be supported to undertake visits out of the care home as appropriate:

  • If they have received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, or are exempt from vaccination, they should not have to isolate following most visits out of the care home if they follow the correct testing regime.
  • If they have not received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, and are not exempt from vaccination, they should isolate for 14 days following a visit out.
  • All residents should isolate following an emergency stay in hospital, if they test positive for COVID-19 or following a visit that has been deemed high-risk after an individual risk assessment by the care home.

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 questions or need advice, please email: 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 


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