Starting from Monday 6th July, staff and residents in care homes for people over 65 or with dementia will be regularly tested for coronavirus.
All staff, including Florence and agency staff, will be tested weekly, while residents will be tested every 28 days. This is in addition to the intensive testing any care home undergoes when facing an outbreak or increased risk of virus transmission.
The announcement comes from the Department of Health and Social Care, and at the time of writing is relevant to care homes in England - we await guidance for whether there will be increased testing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
How will testing work for Florence nurses/carers?
Your test should be arranged by the care home you work with, and details of where it will happen will be provided to you by the care home manager.
Care homes will arrange testing for staff on a weekly basis, including temporary positions filled by Florence, agency and bank staff. Testing should happen regardless of whether you are displaying symptoms.
You will need to be tested at each care home you work with.
If you work with more than one care home in a week, you should be tested at each home as part of their headcount of staff testing.
Do homes know they should be testing agency staff?
Yes, all care homes should have been informed of the new guidance when it was issued by the government on July 6th.
Care homes will have been told to register via a government portal (seen here) and order monthly retesting kits for staff and residents, based on their home's headcount.
To advise care homes to do this, a letter has been sent to Directors of Public Health, Directors of Adult Social Services, Adult Social Care Home Providers and Local Authority Chief Executives outlining the process.
The onus is on care homes to organise your test, and ensure you receive it.
What is the test and what will it tell me?
The test involves a staff member taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.
Test results should be available to you within 48 hours of a swab being taken.
This is an antigen test, which tells you if you have coronavirus at the time of taking the test. It does not tell you if you’ve ever had coronavirus in the past (an antibody test).
What if a home doesn't test me?
While all care homes should now be offering to test you, we know in reality some may not be up and running with this yet.
Please let your Florence account manager know if you are not offered a test at a care home you work with, and we'll investigate further.
During the adjustment period, we recommend you consider arranging COVID-19 testing yourself, at least once a week, while care homes adapt to the new rules.
You can book your own test here.
This will ensure you're getting regularly tested, giving you peace of mind that you're complying with government requirements.
What else should I be aware of?
Care home groups may also implement their own policies for agency staff, on top of the government's directive.
HC-One homes, for example, now require agency staff to show a negative test result from the last seven days before each shift. Having your own test in place will help you comply with this policy, if you regularly work at an HC-One home.
We’re here to help
We understand the uncertainty and stress coronavirus has brought to your working life, and we appreciate the incredible challenge frontline nurses and carers are facing.
Florence is working to keep you, residents and care homes protected from the spread of infection. If you are unsure, please see our guidelines on what we are doing to help all Florence users, as well as see our policy for nurses and carers to follow during this time.