Care home LFD staff testing FAQs
Information on this page has been provided by DHSC in answer to frequently asked questions from their recent webinars on the changes to staff testing
You can access a recording of the DHSC webinars about the changes to staff testing, the rationale for those changes and the additional support available to care homes.
Some of the frequently asked questions on those webinars are listed below:
Do staff all need to test on the same day each week?
DHSC understand that staff may work different shift patterns and that you will need to adjust individuals’ testing days to fit with these. Care homes should stick as closely as possible to the policy while taking into account shift patterns.
You do not need to test all your staff on the same day as each other, and staff do not need to come into the care home on their days off for testing.
After a positive PCR test, I wait 90 days before re-testing with a PCR test. Does that also apply to an LFD test?
No, the 90 day period does not apply to the LFD test.
PCR tests measure the viral RNA and amplify its signal as part of the laboratory testing process, so even if you have traces of it in your system you could still get a positive result for up to 90 days after you initially tested positive.
LFD tests measure a person’s infectiousness, so after someone tests positive and has completed their isolation, they should re-start the twice weekly lateral flow testing immediately on their return to the care home.
After 90 days from their positive PCR test they should then restart their weekly PCR testing as well.
Do staff and residents still need to test if they have been vaccinated?
Yes, we do not know enough about the vaccine at this point to stop testing.
Do I still need to contact my local health protection team to arrange outbreak testing?
Yes, please contact them as soon as possible if you get any positive results from either an LFD or PCR test.
You can find your health protection team here.
Can our staff test at home using LFD kits?
At the moment we do not have MHRA approval for the LFD tests to be used at home by anyone other than NHS staff.
DHSC are working on getting that approval as soon as possible, as well as packaging our kits into individual packages so staff can take them home. DHSC will keep you updated on progress with both of these.
Do we need to register all of our LFD results?
Until 15 January, only positive, indeterminate and void results need be registered, as DHSC have implemented a grace period to support care homes adjust to this increase in testing.
From 16 January all LFD results must be recorded, whether positive, negative, void or indeterminate.
You can register a lateral flow device result here.
Please note, this is a different link from where you register your PCR test. DHSC do not currently have a bulk upload available for registering lateral flow test results but are working on improving the way both test results are registered.
What should I do if my LFD result is positive and my confirmatory PCR test is negative?
If the confirmatory PCR test result is negative then you do not have coronavirus. If two tests were conducted at the same time and return different results, then please always refer to the PCR result.
Whereabouts should we carry out the LFD testing?
The designated testing area for LFD testing should be away from residents and other staff. Care homes will need to determine the most suitable place based on the layout and facilities in their home.
Are we expected to test all professionals that enter the building?
All visiting professionals, including NHS staff, non NHS staff, maintenance workers and others should be tested prior to entry unless they are already part of a separate regular testing regime, such as NHS workers and CQC inspectors.
NHS workers and CQC inspectors all have access to their own testing and they should be able to confirm that they have had a test within the last few days (if LFD) or week (if PCR).
Anyone who hasn’t accessed their own testing should be given an LFD test before they enter the home.
Do we return LFD kits anywhere?
No – there is no need to return lateral flow tests to labs, please dispose of with your healthcare waste or clinical waste once you have a result.
How do we return our confirmatory PCR kits?
The difference between the confirmatory PCR test kits that we send you with your LFD kits, and the PCR test kits that you order for your weekly staff and monthly resident testing is that the confirmatory tests have:
- a Royal Mail return label with every kit
- a set of instructions with every kit
To return the confirmatory tests, please use the Royal Mail return label and post them in a priority mailbox. Find your nearest priority mailbox.
If you have a courier booked anyway for that day, or you do not have return labels, or you have run out of confirmatory PCR tests and need to use your standard PCR supply, you can return the confirmatory tests via courier. If you need to arrange an urgent courier because you do not have one booked and have no return labels, please call 119.
What should I do if I haven’t received part of my kit e.g. barcodes, the LFD kits themselves or confirmatory PCR kits?
If you have not received bar codes, then please use the QR code on each LFD test cartridge. There is a number underneath the QR code which you enter when registering the kit.
If you have not received, or have run out of, your confirmatory PCR tests, then please use your standard care home supply of PCR tests and return via courier. You can request an urgent courier by calling 119.
If you have not received the lateral flow devices or have run out of them, please call 119 who will arrange an urgent delivery
How do I order more lateral flow devices?
You do not need to order your next round of LFD test kits. DHSC are sending another delivery of a month’s supply of LFD test kits to every care home in England during January, with the first deliveries arriving on Monday.
DHSC are prioritising homes in areas of high prevalence and tier four areas. You will receive an email confirming when your kits will arrive a few days before.
If you are running low and haven’t received your next order, please call 119.
DHSC are building a digital ordering portal for LFD kits so care homes can order more lateral flow devices when they need them. This will launch in January.
You should continue to order your regular PCR tests in the usual way.