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COVID-19 testing for extra care and support living settings


Who is eligible?

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published the following eligibility criteria for extra care and supported living settings:

  • Criteria 1: the setting is a closed community with substantial facilities shared between multiple people.
  • Criteria 2: the majority of ‘residents’ (more than 50%) receive the kind of personal care that is CQC regulated (more than help with cooking, cleaning and shopping).

If a setting meets one of these criteria, they are eligible to access testing and are known as a ‘wider' setting.

If a setting meets both of these criteria, they are eligible to access testing and are known as a ‘high risk’ setting.



What type of test is recommended?

Wider settings

The DHSC recommends staff in these settings should test routinely using a PCR test. 

High risk settings

The DHSC recommends staff in these settings should test routinely using PCR and LFD test kits.

Residents in both these settings should test routinely using a PCR. 

In addition, both wider and high risk settings may use LFD tests to support visits in and out of the service.



What is the recommended testing regime?

Wider settings

Staff in these settings should PCR test once per week.

High risk settings

Staff in these settings should routinely:

  • PCR test once per week
  • LFD test twice per week – once LFD test should be completed on the same day as their PCR and the other LFD test three to four days later. LFD testing should be completed before their shift begins.

Residents in high risk settings should routinely PCR test once per month. 

Wider and high risk settings may consider using LFD testing, as part of a wider risk assessment, to support with facilitating safe visits/activities away from the setting for residents.

If there is a positive COVID-19 case in the setting (staff or resident), staff should LFD test daily for seven consecutive days.

If there is an outbreak, a setting may be advised to complete further testing by Public Health England and/or the council.

Visitors should be encouraged to LFD test before their visit to both wider and high risk settings.



How are test kits ordered?

To set up an account, the setting should use the self-referral portal:

  1. Quote the unique organisation number (UON) once only: 99874802 to establish their account (this UON cannot be used to order test kits).
  2. Complete the required eligibility questions
  3. Complete their setting details

Once the initial application has been submitted by the setting, the DHSC sends the information to the council to confirm a setting is eligible. The on-boarding process typically takes seven to ten days.

Once a service is on-boarded they will be provided with a UON to order test kits using the portal, based on the classification of the setting. 

Once an order has been placed, the setting representative will receive a confirmatory email. The setting will receive a second email to advise of the delivery arrangements.

The portal will tell the setting when they are next able to order test kits.



How do you test?

PCR tests should be completed in the setting. 

Staff members can self-swab. It is critical, staff members swabbing others are trained and competent. 

PCR tests require a combined throat and nasal swab. Where it is not possible to take a combined swab, a nasal swab (both nostrils) is sufficient.

Each PCR test kit contains instructions on how to complete a PCR test.

All completed test kits should be registered on-line:

If a setting is returning eight or less PCR tests they should use Royal Mail Priority post box, as per instructions, on the same day the PCR test was completed.

If a setting is returning nine or more test kits, they should book a courier in order to return their PCR test kits.

A courier should be booked before a setting starts testing and ensure all tests are completed before your allocated courier collection time. If there is an issue with the courier, the setting should contact 119 in the first instance.

LFD tests are recommended to be completed on site for staff, residents and visitors, where possible. 

Staff completing LFD tests should complete a short mandatory training module; settings should use the token code: 3wkcVi4UTX to access this training and follow the steps detailed in the testing service for extra care and supported living settings.

Testing service for extra care and supported living settings contains information on the required steps each setting needs to take to test safely, including a designated area and process.

Staff and visitors can also LFD test at home, using the blue boxes containing seven test kits only.

The DHSC have produced a video on self-testing and supporting guidance notes detailing testing on and off site. 

Every LFD result should be reported online, using the UON of the setting.



How are results reported?

The details entered at the point of registration of test kits will receive an email and a text message, containing the results.

Any party who tests positive for COVID-19 should immediately isolate: 

  • A staff member and resident should immediately inform the setting
  • A visitor should not proceed with their planned visit to the setting

If a person tests positive for COVID-19 using an LFD, they should take a confirmatory PCR test within two days of the initial LFD test.



What are the reporting requirements?

Registered settings are required to report COVID-19 cases to Public Health England

Registered should regularly update the Capacity Tracker, including if there are positive COVID-19 cases in their service (staff and residents).

Registered settings do not need to notify CQC of individual positive COVID-19 cases in their service, but should notify CQC if COVID-19 affects the day to day running of their services.



Other types of testing available 

In addition to the DHSC recommended testing regimes, wider settings may wish to consider joining our local LFD programme.

Our local LFD testing is designed to compliment the DHSC testing regime; it is recommended people test twice per week using via LFD, with one test being completed on the same day as the recommended weekly PCR test for staff.

To enquire about our local LFD programme, please complete the online form.

If a person tests positive for COVID-19 using an LFD test, they should take a confirmatory PCR test within two days of the initial LFD test.



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