Care homes still waiting for Covid-19 tests to protect staff and residents

Care homes are still waiting for coronavirus testing kits after the Government promised weekly testi

Care homes are still waiting for coronavirus testing kits after the Government promised weekly testing for staff. Picture: Ben Birchall - Credit: PA

Care homes in North Somerset are still waiting for testing kits despite government assurances staff will be tested for Covid-19 every week.

Last month, the government announced care home staff will be tested weekly, while residents will receive a test every 28 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus in social care.

The new testing strategy has been brought in due to the higher prevalence of Covid-19 in care homes.

More: Nursing homes days from crisis due to coronavirus pandemic.

Care homes for people over 65 and those with dementia will be prioritised before the testing strategy is rolled out to all adult care homes.

Gordon Butcher, regional chairman of the Registered Nursing Home Association, said testing started the first week, but was then frozen and all homes were told not to test anymore due to concerns over the accuracy of the tests.

He said: “We had one week of testing then it was frozen because there were questions about the reliability of the tests itself.

“In addition, the government lost 30,000 tests in a single day. Since then, we are getting weekly emails telling us we will be getting our tests kits soon – it’s now been two-and-a-half weeks and nothing.

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“Some homes have just received them after two weeks, with no guarantee when the next batch will be delivered.”

Mr Butcher said care homes feel let down by the government after five months of stress and broken promises.

He said: “All providers are reporting what has been described as Covid fatigue amongst staff.

“It has been a long five stressful months and we are still getting daily media reports of a looming second wave. Staff are weary and tired.”

Mr Butcher is urging the government to fulfil its pledge to provide regular testing for staff and to give more funding to care homes who are still spending huge amounts of money on PPE.

He said: “I feel that the landscape of the care sector will alter immensely in the coming year.

“Many care homes were struggling before the pandemic, but the ongoing financial impact of Covid-19 is going to be expenditure too far.

“If the government does not provide ‘real’ investment in the care sector, an unprecedented number of care homes will be forced to close.”