Care Home Lateral Flow Testing of Visitors Pilot

Information about pilots of lateral flow testing for visitors has been added to the coronavirus testing page. Note that the test will be offered to, but is not mandatory for, visiting professionals.

Information for GPs

PHA have worked with the care homes sector to identify 15 independent care homes across the region (3 in each Trust) to implement lateral flow testing ( 20 minute- 30 minute rapid covid test) in support of visiting within the homes. It is hoped to commencing testing on 14th December if the homes are ready.  Existing visiting policy and the cornerstones of safe visiting using PPE and good Infection Prevention & Control practice will remain. This is one of a number of New Testing Initiatives (NTI – Pilots) using the Lateral Flow Device devices in the HSC and Education. I have attached the outline Protocol for your information which is currently being adapted for NI but is unlikely to change materially.

In the homes all visitors will be offered a Lateral Flow Device test before they are admitted. They then will need to wait 20-30 minutes (in their car or lobby if care home have one in place) pending result before admission for their visit using normal PPE etc. A quality assurance programme using PCR testing and evaluation will also run alongside the initiative.

As visiting professionals are generally working to a timeline dictated by their caseload, it may not be practical or possible for them to engage with the NTI pilot. However, they will be offered the Lateral Flow Device test as a ‘visitor’ to the care home – it will not be mandatory for visiting professionals.

A number of professionals who work with care homes regularly are already aligned to a care home and avail of weekly PCR testing.

For those who would wish to avail of a Lateral Flow Device test, an option may be to register and do it at the beginning of a visit before continuing with their visit as normal (wearing appropriate PPE as per normal practice during visits) – their result will be forwarded to them automatically.