A new coronavirus task force has been launched to stop the spread of Covid-19 among all people who receive care, the Department of Health and Social Care announced yesterday.
The group will help carry out the Government’s social care action plan and infection control measures outlined in the £600-million social care support package.
It comes with an announcement that access to universal care home testing will be expanded to include adult care homes for under-65s, including specialist learning disability and mental health care homes.
All care homes are now able to order tests for residents and staff, regardless of symptoms, after universal testing was first prioritised for care homes for over-65s and people with dementia.
Minister for care Helen Whately said that the ‘whole care home testing’ programme was launched to ‘prevent and control outbreaks and protect the most vulnerable’.
She continued: ‘Care homes are on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 and we are determined that staff have everything they need to keep themselves and their residents safe.’
Testing asymptomatic workers means those who test positive can be isolated, reducing the number of people who can spread the virus and building understanding of local outbreaks.
The Government has said that it has provided 1,071,103 test kits to 8,984 care homes, and that they are now able to send out over 50,000 test kits a day.
The Covid-19 task force will be led by former president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services David Pearson.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘From [Tuesday] all remaining adult care homes in England will be able to order the whole care home testing service for residents and staff. This service will benefit residents and staff in over 6,000 more care homes.’
He added: ‘Right across the care home sector everyone will have the certainty and confidence of a high-quality coronavirus test, whether symptomatic or not, certainty about whether or not they’re carrying the virus and confidence that they are doing the right thing both to protect themselves and others.’
This comes in addition to the Government’s test and trace system, which the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) yeseterday concluded was ‘not fit for purpose’.
Independent SAGE experts also said nurses working in primary and community care are ‘absolutely vital’ to a successful test and trace system, responding to a question from Nursing in Practice.