The Government has finally bowed to public pressure, announcing that test kits have been offered to every care home for over-65s or those with dementia in England.
Testing kits had been delivered to nearly 9,000 settings by the Government’s deadline of 6 June.
The move comes after widespread criticism that the care sector has been largely ignored during the COVID-19 outbreak, despite social care residents being among the most vulnerable in terms of contracting coronavirus.
The tests were offered to eligible care homes regardless of symptoms.
Since the launch of ‘whole care home testing’ the Government has provided 1,071,103 test kits to 8,984 care homes, and is now able to send out over 50,000 test kits a day.
Testing asymptomatic workers and residents helps prevent and control outbreaks. It means those who test positive can be isolated, reducing the number of people who can spread the virus and protecting the most vulnerable
As well as testing kits that have been sent to homes directly, tens of thousands of care home workers and residents have also been tested by Public Health England or at drive-through testing sites and mobile testing units.
This is in addition to care home workers receiving test kits to their own homes through the separate employer and employee portal.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “We have now managed successfully to offer tests to every care home that is eligible, both for staff testing and for residents to be tested.
“What that means is that for about three-quarters of a million people living and working in nearly 9,000 eligible care homes, the tests have been delivered.
“To ensure every care home has the support it needs, the Government sent test kits to all eligible care homes unless they stated they did not want to receive them. Test results for residents will be communicated to the care home managers.
“Testing asymptomatic workers and residents helps prevent and control outbreaks. It means those who test positive can be isolated, reducing the number of people who can spread the virus and protecting the most vulnerable. It also helps to build up a strategic understanding of the prevalence of the virus in local areas and the sector as a whole.”
The progranne is in addition to the new Test and Trace service which has an important role in limiting the spread of the virus.