The UK government has launched an online portal to enable care homes to arrange deliveries of Covid-19 coronavirus test kits.
The launch comes as testing for all symptomatic and asymptomatic care home staff who look after over 65s and dementia patients and residents in England become eligible for testing.
“This new portal allows those who book tests for staff and residents to do so even more easily, and it also offers a route for the prioritisation of care homes with the greatest need,” said Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary.
By testing asymptomatic workers, the government hopes to helps prevent and control outbreaks and isolate workers who test positive, reducing the number of people who can spread the virus, thereby protecting the elderly.
Test results for residents will be communicated to the care home managers and the information will be provided to councils as a means to help local authorities manage coronavirus outbreaks.
To apply, care homes need to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). In addition to contact details, care homes must supply their CQC registration numbers, their total number of residents and staff, as well as the number of people with coronavirus symptoms. Applicants then get an email saying when the tests will be delivered.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, “tens of thousands” of care home workers and residents have already been tested by Public Health England, or at drive-through testing sites, mobile testing units and via satellite testing kits, packages of tests sent to care homes for staff to use on residents.
In April, NHSX and its partners launched a technology challenge to help support the most vulnerable during the pandemic. One of the winners, Birdie, provides a digital platform for home care agencies to better manage the care they provide. Through the app, care workers capture daily visit logs, and a central hub allows staff to track real-time information.