The Department of Health and Social Care is commencing the national roll-out of Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) to care homes.

26 Nov, 2020

This communication  is for care homes in England only. Communication will be sent out to care homes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland soon.

Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) are rapid COVID-19 tests which can be used for:

·        scheduled visitor testing

·        increased resident testing

·        increased staff testing

This is in addition to the current PCR regular retesting in care homes.

This email provides information about the LFT roll out and how you can best prepare. Further information will be sent in the coming weeks which will include the exact details of when your LFT kits will arrive and the support available to you.

How does LFT work?

LFT is a new technology which enable rapid display of COVID-19 test results within 20-30 minutes and do not require a lab to process. The LFT tests can be self-administered via nasal and throat swabs similar to the current PCR tests.

Your care home will receive a delivery of LFT that you can use to test scheduled visitors.

We will be providing you with access to online training to prepare for the testing, as well as materials to prepare your home and visitors.

What are your next steps?

You do not need to take any action at this time.

In the coming weeks, you will receive an email that will confirm delivery of your LFT kits, as well as specific instructions on how to undertake this testing, including further details on preparing your care home and visitors for this process.

Your delivery will include:

·        one box of LFT kits

·        one box of universal PCR test kits

·        one box of supplementing kit

LFT kits can be stored at room temperature and should be kept separate from other test kits.

 

Preparing your care home for scheduled visitor testing

Whilst you await this further information, please consider how your care home can best prepare for this new testing process in order to test scheduled visitors.

Key things to consider include:

·        preparing a designated entrance where visitors can put on PPE before interacting with others. If a visitor must come through the same entrance as others to access this area, they will need to put on PPE outside first, before entering the building

·        preparing a designated area for testing where a visitor can wait whilst awaiting their LFT result. This area will need to be away from the main part of the home, so a visitor does not interact with any other staff or residents prior to receiving their test result

·        whether your testing area may be set up either indoors or outdoors. The specific configuration of your care home’s testing area will depend on infrastructure and environmental constraints

·        taking stock of your PPE and ensuring you have enough for visitors if required (see PPE section below)

·        making space in your home to store LFT kits separately from your other kits

Further preparation considerations will be highlighted in the webinar, but please consider where to set up the testing area in your care home.

Training

To prepare staff to use LFT for testing, NHS Test and Trace have created an online training portal. The training videos last about 15 minutes followed by a competency assessment. It is critical that each care home manager identify staff members that need access to the training portal.

You will receive an email in due course that will include a link and a token that will provide you with access to the online training portal.

The email will be sent from testertraining@dhsc.gov.uk

You will need to share the link and token provided with the individuals who require the training. Any enquiries on training should be directed to the above email address.

Testing staff can complete this training before or after the webinar, but it is critical that your home does not begin testing until all relevant staff have completed the assessment.

Once access is granted and training is complete, screen-grabs of the competency assessment can be sent to the care home manager to be stored for internal records.

PPE for scheduled visitors

To ensure you have enough PPE for scheduled visitors to care homes, we will be sending out a one-off push of PPE to every CQC-registered care home provider.

If you are already registered on the PPE portal, you do not need to take any action in order to receive this PPE.

The delivery of this PPE will take place between this week and 18 December in a staggered manner and will be in addition to any PPE you order through the PPE portal. We will use the details you have provided on the PPE portal to make these deliveries.

If you are not registered on the PPE portal, you must register before 2 December (you do not have to place an order). Without registering on the portal, you will not receive this one-off push of PPE to support visitors.

You can register on the PPE portal via https://nhs-ppe.co.uk/customer/authentication with the email address that your care home has used to register with the CQC. If you have any issues with this, please contact the PPE portal customer support service on 0800 876 6802.

Following this initial push of PPE, we will look to raise the order limits on the PPE portal, so you can simply increase the amount of PPE you can order to support safe visiting in future.

Webinars

In the coming weeks, you will also receive details to join our on-boarding webinars to learn about how to use your LFT kits.

We ask that all testing staff attend one webinar to prepare for LFT testing.

The webinar lasts 60 minutes and provides detailed information about the testing process, following a similar format to webinars that have been previously run for care homes. The session will also include a live Q&A with representatives from the national care home testing team, who will be able to answer your questions and address any concerns in the session.

Who should you contact in an emergency?

If at any stage over the next few days, someone at your organisation cannot cope with the symptoms, or their condition gets worse, or their symptoms do not get better after 7 days, use the https://111.nhs.uk/COVID-19 service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. In a medical emergency, dial 999.

Many thanks,
NHS Test and Trace

 ​​​​​

 

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