On 31 March 2022, the Department of Health and Social Care published the much awaited new guidance on infection and control resource for adult social care. This includes the Government’s updated guidance on vaccinations and testing. The key changes in the new guidance are set out below.
Staff in adult social care should test twice a week with lateral flow tests (LFTs).
Following a positive test result, staff in care homes, high risk extra care and supported living settings should do daily testing for 5 days.
Staff with Covid-19 should not attend work until they have had 2 consecutive negative LFTs (taken at least 24 hours apart), they feel well and do not have a high temperature. The first LFT should only be taken from 5 days after day 0 (the day their symptoms started, or the day their test was taken if asymptomatic).
If the staff member cares for people at a higher risk of becoming seriously unwell with Covid-19, a risk assessment should be taken. Consideration should be given to redeployment until 10 days after their symptoms started (or the day their test was taken if asymptomatic). The staff member should comply with all relevant infection control precautions, including PPE, throughout the day.
If the staff member’s LFTs result remains positive on the 10th day, they should continue to take daily LFTs. They can return to work after a single negative LFT result.
If after 14 days they are still testing positive, they can stop testing and return to work on day 15. If the staff member works with especially vulnerable people (to Covid-19) a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment.
Managers can undertake a risk assessment of staff who test positive between 10 and 14 days and who do not have a high temperature or feel unwell, with a view to them returning to work depending on the work environment.
Staff who are notified that they have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19, do not need to carry out additional testing or self-isolate, but a risk assessment should be undertaken.
Care homes and homecare organisations regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are eligible for free Covid-19 testing.
Extra care and supported living settings are eligible if they meet one of the following criteria:
- the setting is a closed community with substantial facilities shared between multiple people
- it is a setting where more than 50% of residents receive the kind of personal care that is CQC-regulated
If your setting meets both criteria above, it is a ‘high-risk extra care and supported living setting’.
Day care centres are eligible if run by paid care staff. Services must be for adults over 18 and must be provided within non-residential care settings that support the health and wellbeing of adults. This includes settings such as:
- purpose-built day centres
- day centres attached to or part of a care home or supported living setting
- other buildings in communities specifically used for regular adult day care
Personal assistants are eligible if directly employed by an individual (or self-employed) to provide care and support to an adult, enabling them to live as independently as possible. This could include support in the home, or to go out into the community.
‘Universal masking’ will continue with face masks to be worn by all care workers and visitors in care settings when providing care to a person, irrespective of whether they are known or suspected to have Covid-19.
Staff should only wear a type IIR mask, eye protection, apron and gloves when giving personal care to someone suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19, or when cleaning their room. When undertaking other tasks within 2 metres of someone suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19, a type IIR mask and eye protection should be worn. An apron and gloves should also be worn if it is risk assessed that contact with blood or body fluids is likely.
When carrying out personal care for someone who is not suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19, a type I, II or IIR mask should be worn along with an apron and gloves.
Where there is a high prevalence of Covid-19 locally or in an outbreak situation, care homes may be asked to limit staff movement by the local Director of Public Health.
Staff should be encouraged to get a Covid-19 vaccine and a booster. However, this is not a legal requirement. Employers will need to keep records of the vaccination status of their staff and should carry out risk assessments where necessary. Such risk assessments may result in employers deploying vaccinated staff to care for those staff deemed at high risk of severe Covid-19 infection, when considered proportionate.
For more information, please contact Katie Maguire.