With Christmas just around the corner, and the desire to spend time with loved ones stronger than ever, we’re delighted to welcome lateral flow test kits into our care homes. This form of rapid testing not only suggests coronavirus is not present in people visiting our care homes, but, for the first time since March, could allow you to hug and touch your loved one in our care.
While we know just being able to see your face can make the world of difference, there is no denying that this is a much needed and welcomed boost towards getting back to normal visiting. However, protecting our residents, staff and visitors, remains our top priority so we ask that you to follow the below steps for a safe and enjoyable visit. We are combining testing with other infection prevention and control measures (such as PPE) to support meaningful visits with loved ones.
Update: 19th December 2020: Following the government’s announcement and the introduction of Tier 4, it is with regret that we will not be supporting indoor visits for families who decide to travel from these areas. Therefore, people who live in Tier 4 are exempt from the introduction of lateral flow testing. For more information on the impact of Tier 4, please visit here.
What visiting our care homes looks like with rapid testing
You will be asked to take a test using a new technology called a Lateral Flow Test (LFT). You will be tested before visiting to check if you currently have Covid-19.
For this, we will ask you to do a throat and nose swab every time you visit and then we will let you know your result in 30 minutes. We will ask you to complete the swabbing yourself, supervised by a trained staff member. A swab is a small piece of soft, absorbent material on a plastic stick that is used to take a sample from your nose and throat.
The test is very straightforward and you will be supported throughout the process by a member of staff from the care home. Full instructions will be provided to you upon your scheduled visit.
Key steps you should be prepared for during the test include:
1. When you first enter the care home
- You will be provided with PPE and asked to put it on as advised by a member of staff. This will include gloves, mask and apron. A staff member will help you with this.
- Your temperature will be taken by a member of staff.
- You will be asked to sign a consent form to take the test and share personal information with us so we can record and tell you your result.
- You will be checked in for your visit.
2. You will then be asked to register for your test
- This is how NHS Test & Trace can link you to your test sample and collect contact details to send you your result.
- This will be an online form completed on your smartphone device or we can provide a device to use if you do not have one.
- If you cannot complete this form yourself, a staff member can help you.
- To complete the registration form, our staff will provide you with:
- Your test kit barcode – used to track your individual test
- The test site ID number – used to link your test to the care home
- Test registration card – used to save a copy of your barcode for your personal records
- Please make sure you keep the barcode copies with you.
3. Take your test:
- After you check in, you will be given a swab.
- You will then need to take your own throat and nose swab, supervised by one of our trained staff members. We will walk you through how to swab yourself which will only take about 30 seconds to do.
- Once you have handed over the swab, you will be asked to wait until your result is ready which will take approximately 30 minutes.
4. What does my result mean?
We will tell you your result and NHS Test & Trace will also send your result via SMS and/or the email that you provided on the online registration form.
- Positive - you will not be able to visit. You must go home immediately and self-isolate. You will have to take a second test which is a confirmatory PCR test, which we will provide and register for you. You will receive your result in around 72 hours and you need to self-isolate until you get your result. If you test positive, NHS Test & Trace may contact you to ask you for your contacts.
- Inconclusive - we will ask you to do another LFT test. If this is inconclusive too, we will discuss your visit with you.
- Negative - your visit will be able to go ahead, as long as you comply with all other infection prevention and control measures (see below). This does not guarantee that you will definitely not have Covid-19, so we still need to make sure visit take place in a safe way, such as ensuring you wear your PPE at all times. If you have any questions about this, please do ask.
It’s important to recognise that a negative test will provide us with some assurance as to whether you are carrying the Covid-19 virus. However, it is not a guarantee. To keep your loved one and our care home safe, we ask that you please follow the below guidelines:
- Stay home if you are feeling unwell, including if you have a fever, a cough or a change in your taste and smell.
- Follow national guidance outside of your visit, including limiting your contact with other people and wearing a mask in public if possible,
- Observe social distancing with anyone outside of your household or bubble and wash your hands regularly.
During your visit – Do’s and Don’ts
Inside the care home, we ask that you continue to wear your face covering and any other PPE that you were asked to wear by a member of staff. Please continue with our visiting policy throughout the visit.
Other behaviours that are allowed during your visit:
- Provided you are wearing appropriate PPE, and following other infection control measures then it will be possible for you to have physical contact with your loved ones, such as providing personal care, holding hands and a hug as long as they consent to this.
Behaviours that are not allowed during your visit:
- Taking off any PPE according to guidance from the member of staff
- Entering into any part of the home that is not designated for your visit.
Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation. We will continue to work hard to support and improve meaningful visits with our residents.
Here's a video the Department of Health and Social Care has put together demonstrating what to expect:
Please note that should a care home have an outbreak of coronavirus, testing, and most likely visits, will be stopped immediately. Testing and visits will only resume when it is deemed safe to do so. Staff members are already receiving vaccines, which will also be rolled out to residents by the NHS, as we make every effort to ensure the safety of our residents and staff.
We have created a guidance leaflet on how appointments will be conducted and all the things you need to know, before you visit. This guidance can be viewed and downloaded here and is available as a hard copy at each home.
Other ways to visit Somerset Care
Designated visitor suites:
A designated visitor suite allows you to visit and talk to a resident through a screen, to avoid cross-contamination. This can be used if you do not want a lateral flow test, or in the event the results came back inconclusive. These visitor spaces are designed to make residents and visitors safe and warm during the winter months. You will be required to wear PPE and maintain a 2 metre distance from everyone within the home.
Window or garden visits:
Weather permitting; you may be able to visit a resident through a window or in the garden. You will be required to wear PPE and maintain a 2 metre distance at all times.
You can connect with residents through the wonders of technology, with Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp calls etc. available. We have invested in other technologies, such as the Relsapp app, which allows residents to communicate through calls, messages, pictures, videos and music.
Should you need assistance with setting up a video call, please contact [email protected] and we will be more than happy to help you.
Please decide how you would like visit our care home and make an appointment:
- Only one person per visit
- Please do not visit our care home if you are symptomatic
- Please be prepared to sign and consent to our Visitor Agreement Form
- If you are receiving a lateral flow test, please be prepared to be guided by a member of staff in taking the test and allow 30 minutes for results. This will be factored into the timings of your appointment booking
- We will also take your temperature for added safety
- With the exception of food items, non-perishable gifts only, as they will be quarantined for 72 hours.
- Please wear the PPE we provide you, including a mask, apron and gloves, and wash your hands on arrival
Thank you for respecting our rules, and thank you for visiting.