Home Health Coronavirus: Care home visits 'delayed' over lack of testing

Coronavirus: Care home visits ‘delayed’ over lack of testing

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A number of care homes in England are having to delay the resumption of visits because of a lack of coronavirus testing for staff and residents.

It comes after the government withdrew one brand of home-test kits used in care homes over safety concerns.

A leading care home group told the BBC many of its facilities would not be able to host family members for weeks.

The government said care homes affected by the withdrawal of kits would get replacements “as soon as possible”.

Last week the government announced that visits in care home in England could resume once local authorities and local public health experts decided it was safe.

Residents will be limited to seeing the same one visitor, where possible, the guidance says.

  • What are the care home visiting rules in England?
  • Safety issue over Randox Covid test kits

But the announcement came a few days after the government said test kits made by Randox that it had sent to care homes should not be used as a precaution as the swabs were “not up to standard”. Randox claims to be responsible for up to 17% of the total tests carried out in the UK.

Visits are unlikely to be allowed to start without regular testing of staff and residents taking place and care homes say they are still waiting to be given alternatives.

Provider MHA, the largest not for profit group in England, told the BBC it was “disappointed and frustrated by the latest failure in the care home testing regime”.

MHA chief executive Sam Monaghan said visits were unlikely to be allowed without regular testing of staff and residents.

He added: “We are now heading into our third week of no testing for the majority of our care homes following the Randox debacle and it looks likely to last weeks more.

“The impact continues to be felt hardest by our residents and their families who have had to forgo contact with their loved ones to keep them safe, and our staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.”

‘Short-lived optimism’

Another care provider, Care UK, has said it was finding it “increasingly difficult to access regular testing”.

Chief executive Andrew Knight, in a letter to relatives of residents, said the latest indications he had received from the government suggested most of the company’s care homes in England would have to wait at least five weeks for another round of testing.

“I am sure many of you will find this situation as disappointing as I do, especially given the positive messages the government is still issuing about the scale of the testing programme it is supposedly offering.”

A Department of Health statement said: “We have been doing everything we can to ensure care home residents and staff are protected during this unprecedented global pandemic, including increasing access to testing.

“We have high safety standards for all coronavirus tests. All care homes affected by the withdrawal of Randox kits will get replacement kits as soon as possible, and care homes can continue to use test kits from other suppliers.”

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