Liverpool City Council has launched a testing pilot designed to pave the way for relatives to get closer to their loved ones during care home visits.
Staff at 11 homes have been trained to give lateral flow tests (LFTs) as part of Liverpool’s wider community-testing pilot, which will mean that protective screens are not necessary during visits.
The pilot will last for two weeks and it is then hoped that the testing process will be offered to all other care homes in the city.
Visiting slots must be pre-booked directly with care homes and a risk management plan will be in place for each resident.
To keep residents as safe as possible, one visitor wearing full PPE will be allowed for each visit and visits will be for 30 minutes (preceded by a waiting time of 30 minutes for a second LFT result) during daytime only.
Matt Ashton, Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, said: “One of the main reasons why as a city Liverpool welcomed asymptomatic serial testing was to work towards allowing more meaningful visits in its care homes.
“This has been a complicated project where we have had to balance the safety of vulnerable residents and care home staff with the emotional needs and well-being of everyone touched by the care home sector.
“As with the wider testing pilot, I would ask family members to work with the care homes and their staff as we work out how the visiting process looks on the ground.
“Again, if we do this right, this is another opportunity to enhance people’s lives, not just in the rest of Liverpool’s care homes but also in the rest of the country.”
Liverpool’s pilot launch, which is part of the city’s community testing programme, came after Sheffield City Council instructed care homes taking part in its programme to not use lateral flow tests due to safety concerns.