Thousands of staff and residents in not-for-profit care homes for the over-65s have still not been tested for COVID-19 – in spite of a Government pledge to offer testing to all by the beginning of June.
Research carried out by the National Care Forum suggests that 9% (2,318) of staff and 12% (1,706) of residents in care homes are still awaiting COVID-19 testing.
While there may be unavoidable reasons that care homes have been unable to access tests for some staff and residents such as staff absences, new staff joiners and new resident admissions, the NCF said that routine, regular testing remains “important and necessary” to keep people safe and monitor the spread of the virus, with one respondent to the survey describing one-time testing as “pointless”.
9% of care home staff still not tested
12% of care home residents still not tested
Source: National Care Forum
However, the NCF said it was “encouraging” that the majority of staff and residents have been tested at least once.
The majority of respondents to the NCF survey stated that on average, it takes 1-2 days or 3-4 days to receive test results, with the longest time taken to receive a test result reported as between 2 days and 28 days.
Of the small number of staff (3%) and residents (8%) who had tested positive, 53% of staff (239) and 30% of residents (233) were asymptomatic.
Though a relatively small number, the NCF said it is a “vital indication” of the need for routine and repeat testing in care homes to manage the risk of transmission.
As demonstrated by international evidence in places including Hong Kong, routine testing should be a necessary part of an effective test and trace system, the NCF said.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, said testing of all those receiving care in care homes and the staff delivering it “must continue to be an absolute priority.”
Rayner said: “It’s encouraging to see the high number of care homes that have received COVID-19 testing to date, but this cannot be a one-time arrangement. It is vital that we move to regular and repeat testing in our fight against COVID-19 in care homes, in order to continue to keep people safe and prevent the spread of infection.”
The survey represents NCF members that employ 24,681 staff and support 14,213 residents in 332 care homes across the UK.
COVID-19 TEST RESULTS IN CARE HOMES
Of the 14,094 members of staff who received testing results:
* 95% (13,341) were negative
* 2% (298) were either void or inconclusive (165 were void and 133 were inconclusive)
* 3% (455) members of staff who tested positive; of those 455 testing positive, 53% (239) were asymptomatic
Please note that staff who were symptomatic and positive were not working in the care settings at the time of the tests. Their tests happened were undertaken away from the care setting while self-isolating.
Of the 9,092 residents who received testing results:
* 89% (8,048) were negative
* 3% (277) were either void or inconclusive (152 were void and 125 inconclusive)
* 8% (767) residents tested positive
Of those 767 testing positive, 30% (233) were asymptomatic
Source: National Care Forum survey of 332 care homes across the UK