FAMILY members or friends of those living in care homes will be given regular testing to reunite them with their loved ones after a new pilot scheme was launched.
If successful, it will be rolled out more widely in December raising hopes that families in Southport may be able to see relatives in time for Christmas.
The scheme, which began on November 16, is dependent on Coronavirus cases being brought under control and people are being asked to do all they can to reduce any spread of the virus.
Southport MP Damien Moore said: “This is very welcome news for people locally who have been facing a very challenging few months during this Covid-19 pandemic.
“I understand that families, and care home residents, have been missing that vital face to face contact during this time.
“Many care homes in Southport have gone the extra mile to use measures including Zoom video calling, screens and outside visits to help make some form of contact possible this year, and I commend them for doing so.
“I hope people locally continue with their efforts to bring down transmission of Covid-19.
“Thanks to increased Coronavirus testing capacity, this new pilot scheme will hopefully ensure that families can see each other again as we approach Christmas.”
The pilot is taking place in around 20 care homes across Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon and will be rolled out more widely in December in time for Christmas.
Regular testing will be offered to one family member or friend per resident, which – when combined with other infection-control measures such as PPE – will support meaningful visits. These will enable, where possible, indoor visits without a screen to take place while reducing the risk to care home residents, staff and visitors.
Visitors will be offered either PCR tests which they can do at home, or the new 30-minute rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs), which can be administered in person at care homes before a visit.
The pilot, which forms part of plans to roll out mass testing technology across the country, has been made possible thanks to a huge expansion in the country’s testing capacity, which currently stands at over 500,000 per day.
Each care home receiving LFTs will receive a box of 675 initially and will be given access to more as required. It will take place in local authority areas with lower transmission rates to ensure it can be done as safely as possible and care staff are being trained to ensure tests are administered safely and accurately.
It will further develop the evidence base for how testing with fast, reliable Covid-19 tests can be delivered at scale. If successful, care home testing will be rolled out in a phased way across the country.
Any decision on a national roll-out will be taken in light of the latest available data on transmission rates as a result of national Covid-19 restrictions.
Exact details of the national roll-out will be published in due course and will be guided by the pilot. It is anticipated the LFTs will be used across the country to support rapid access. If these faster tests work in this setting, they they will ring-fence supply to open up more chances for visiting.
Chief officer of the Southport and Formby CCG is named a North West winner in the NHS Parliamentary Awards 2020