COVID-19 support for care homes

Care home visiting policy

The Government have issued updated guidance regarding visiting in the care home. Please note this guidance applies from 8 March 2020 and supersedes previous guidance on visiting policies for care homes. The key summary points from the latest guidance are listed below.

Except in the event of an outbreak

  • Every care home resident will be able to nominate a single named visitor who will be able to enter inside the care home for regular visits. The nominated visitor should be tested using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate PPE, observe social distancing, and follow all other infection control measures in line with the care homes protocols. Physical contact should be kept to a minimum
  • Residents with the highest care needs will also be able to nominate an essential care giver who will be supported to follow the same testing arrangements and the same PPE and infection control arrangements as care home staff
  • If residents wish to see more people than just their single named visitor, care homes can facilitate this by enabling outdoor visiting and screened visits
  • Visits by essential care givers and exceptional circumstances including end of life should always be enabled even in the event of an outbreak (unless there are specific reasons not to do so)
  • Visitors do not need to have been vaccinated before visiting residents however they are recommended to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated when they are invited through the national programme

Read the full guidance

Visitor guidance

Read summary guidance for visitors.

Local visiting policy

The new local policy on visits to care homes is now available and should be read alongside the national guidance.

Visiting professionals guidance

The government have issued updated guidance on how providers can facilitate testing for health, social care and other professionals who may need to visit care homes to provide services. The guidance is the be implemented by care homes and professionals by 22 March 2021.

Key points on the guidance

Professionals should not be allowed to enter a care home without a negative LFT result, with the exception of the following scenarios:

  • An emergency
  • Overridden by the care home manager following a risk-based decision
  • Their entry is required by law, such as CQC inspectors

Read the full guidance for visiting professionals.

Restricting movement between care homes and other settings

Providers can find new guidance by the Government on limiting staff movement between settings in all but exceptional circumstances to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Care home newsletter - DHSC

Care home managers can access a newsletter by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), updating on regular COVID-19 testing.

Read latest newsletter

Care homes resource pack

This pack has been developed to provide clear guidance for London Care Homes aligned with NHS 111 Star lines and London COVID-19 Resource Pack for Primary Care, ensuring that national guidance and good practice can be embedded locally by care providers. Download the Care homes resource pack.

Discharge into care homes for people who have tested positive for COVID-19

The Government has created a note for care homes to simplify and clarify existing national guidance on discharge into care homes (published in December), particularly in relation to people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Read the full guidance

Lateral flow devices testing updates

The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) advise care homes that between 31 December 2020 and 15 January 2021, they are required to register online the positive, indeterminate and void results from staff lateral flow test. For this two-week period there is no mandatory requirement to also register negative tests online. Registration should still be done within 24hrs to ensure the results can assist NHS Test and Trace in understanding transmission and prevalence.

Care homes should keep an internal record of the number of tests completed each day and their results. In January, care homes will be asked to input the total number of tests completed each day and the number of negatives into a single survey administered by the capacity tracker.

Results from all visitor and visiting professionals LFD tests must still be registered, even if negative. Please note that from Saturday 16 January, care homes will need to register all lateral flow device test results, including those that are negative.

Lateral flow devices support

Care homes can find links to information and support from the DHSC regarding the LFD testing below.

These webinars give an overview of the testing policy, but do not go into detail about how to conduct a lateral flow test.

For more information on conducting a lateral flow test:

The NHS training, which all staff members who are carrying out lateral flow testing must complete, can be accessed at:

Please note that the token is not your password. Follow the link, create your own username and password and then you will be prompted to add the token.

Register

To register your completed test kits:

Care home visitors registering confirmatory PCR tests should register using the link in the instructions in their confirmatory PCR test kit pack.

Increase in staff in staff testing using LFD

In addition to the existing weekly staff testing using PCR tests, care homes will now need to test their staff twice a week with lateral flow device (LFD) tests. The new guidance advises all care home staff in all tiers to undertake:

  • One LFD test on the same day as the PCR test.
  • One LFD test midweek between PCR tests.
    If any staff test positive, they will need to undertake a confirmatory PCR and self-isolate at home immediately until they receive their result.

Staff should also undertake an LFD test before beginning their shift if they’ve worked elsewhere since their last shift or have had a period of leave resulting in them missing their weekly PCR test.

Care home vaccine information pack

NHS England have developed this resource pack to provide clear guidance for London Care Homes about the COVID-19 vaccine and bring useful resources and information together in one place. Please note that information and processes are continuing to develop, so please continue to follow local process and guidance.

View the care home vaccine information pack.

Designated settings for people discharged to a care home guidance

The government in conjunction with NHS England, Public Health England and CQC and in consultation with the Local Government Association (LGA), Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), care provider associations and user groups have published guidance on the designated settings scheme for people.

View Discharge into care homes: designated settings

Care homes support package

We know that many care providers are facing challenges; however, care homes have been particularly susceptible to outbreaks of COVID-19. Therefore, the government has issued new guidance setting out the steps that must be taken to keep people in care homes safe.

Support will be brought together across national and local government to help care providers put this into practice. Below is the council’s response to the Government’s request to support care homes:

Procedure for reporting positive COVID-19 cases in the care home

Care homes can find the procedure for reporting positive COVID-19 cases below:

  1. Care home reports to PHE when suspected or confirmed case arises
  2. Care home to then update the NHS Capacity Tracker
  3. If a care home does not make contact with their local CCG or LA then a care home coordinator will contact the care home to find out more details on the reported case/s. Care homes need to regularly update suspected and confirmed cases via Capacity Tracker, Local Authority and RIDDOR

View the Residential and Nursing Care Residents - Suspected Coronavirus Pathway

Weekend testing in care homes

The Director of Public Health, Shannon Kitayo has written a letter to care homes to consider spreading care home testing more evenly throughout the week by testing on weekends where possible in an effort to increase overall testing capacity.

Read Shannon Kitayo's letter to care home managers.

Mental health and wellbeing support for care home staff and residents

South West CCG are offering various Mental Health and Wellbeing Support available to staff and residents in the care homes.

View the mental health and wellbeing support available.

Supporting people with dementia

To support our providers to deliver the best for people with dementia living in care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have developed a guide mainly for care home staff (although friends and family can also benefit), it highlights local concerns raised by care homes and provides advice on how homes can overcome challenges around visiting and activities, residents with dementia’s mental and physical wellbeing, PPE, decisions about care treatment and end of life care.

Guide to supporting people with dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic

Read about further dementia resources.

Influenza Outbreak Response - SOP for Care Providers

Healthy London Partnership and NHS England and Improvement have published a SOP to support care provider managers and staff when managing residents with symptom(s) of Influenza or acute respiratory illness.

You can also find top tips on discharge from hospital to care home and examples of positive practice and other practical tools.

Download the SOP for care providers

You Said We Did joint response to care home survey

In July 2020 Healthwatch Wandsworth worked with SWL CCG (Wandsworth) to develop an independent and anonymous survey for care home staff to understand how well staff in care homes felt supported to care for their residents and to look after themselves during the pandemic.

London Borough of Wandsworth and London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (including Public Health) and SWL CCG (Wandsworth and Richmond) have worked together to develop a response plan to the concerns raised by the care homes staff.

Useful documents for care homes