Test and trace

Test and trace support payment

The £500 Test and Trace Support Payment is for people on low incomes who have been asked by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate.

For more information, see: Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.


Test and trace contact centre - 119

If you have any questions about testing, registering your kits, couriers or results, phone the Test and trace contact centre on 119. (open 7am to 11pm, 7 days a week). 

  • 119 can only investigate missing test results where there are 10 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.
  • All barcodes in each test kit must be identical, so that the registration data and results are 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 identifies when two people using the app have been near each other long enough for COVID-19 transmission to occur if one person is infectious.

This can cause false alarms if you leave the contact tracing app on when:

  • you are not with the phone
  • you are wearing PPE and the phone is near someone who tests positive for COVID-19

To avoid false alarms when you are not at risk, please pause the contact tracing part of the app if:

  • you store your phone in a locker or communal area while you are elsewhere in the care home
  • you carry your phone with you during your work and you are wearing medical grade PPE, such a surgical mask
  • 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.


QR codes for test and trace in care homes

The NHS COVID-19 app has a check-in feature which allows venues to register for an official NHS QR code. Visitors with the app can ‘check-in’ to participating venues by scanning that code.

Care homes should have a QR code poster at the entrance so that visitors can scan on entry.

It's also recommended that care homes display 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.

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 explains the NHS test and trace service for England.

The additional guidance below explains the process if care staff come into contact with someone who is identified by the NHS test and trace service as a positive case.

  • When someone tests positive for COVID-19, NHS test and trace will ask them where they have been in the last 48 hours and who they have been in contact with.
  • If they either work in or have recently visited a care setting, they will be referred to Public Health England (PHE).
  • The local PHE team will work to identify whether staff in the care setting are considered to be contacts or not. The PHE team may get in touch to find out more information, such as the length of time, type of activity undertaken and whether care staff were wearing  appropriate PPE.
  • If a member of staff wore appropriate PPE while caring for someone who has symptoms of, or tests positive for COVID-19, usually the member of staff will not need to self-isolate. The exception to this is if the PPE has been breached.
  • If the staff member was not wearing PPE and has come into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, whether at work or in the community, they will need to isolate for 10 days. This advice should be followed regardless of the results of any antibody testing. A positive antibody result shows previous exposure, but it is 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. Staff should proactively stating their job role and give details of any PPE used during the period of time they are asked about.
  • Care staff should also inform their manager of the advice they have been given if they are called by NHS Test and Trace or their local PHE team..

To avoid unnecessary isolation, it is vital 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 in communal areas.