Community health
Thousands to be tested to understand Covid spread in care homes

By News Feature - Integrated Care Journal

Approximately 10,000 people in care homes will be given repeat testing as part of a new Government study into coronavirus to understand more about its spread in these settings.

The study will take place across over 100 care homes in England with swab tests (known as a PCR test to test if a person currently has the virus) and blood (antibody) tests for all consenting staff and residents over the next year. This will provide reassurance for those living and working in care homes and allow them to react quickly to outbreaks.

The first blood samples took place on Thursday 11 June. This information will help inform future Government strategy on the ongoing response to the virus, including lockdown and social distancing measures. The first results from initial participants are expected to be available in July.

The research, carried out in collaboration with Department of Health and Social Care, University College London and NHS Data Foundry, will draw on results from whole care home testing and previous studies to build a more comprehensive picture of how outbreaks play out over time within the same home.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, welcomed the opportunity, saying: "This study is absolutely critical if we are to win the battle against COVID-19."

Meanwhile, Dr Laura Shallcross of UCL Institute of Health Informatics said the information would be used to "understand why some care homes have had outbreaks and others have not" and that it would "inform the pandemic response in care homes."

On top of this surveillance research in care homes, the Government has extended whole care home testing to all adult care homes after meeting the target of offering a test to every care home for over-65s and those with dementia in England by 6 June.

The Government says it has provided test kits to over 12,000 care homes and is now able to send out and process over 50,000 test kits a day.

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