Around one in ten elderly care home staff and residents are still awaiting COVID-19 testing, according to a survey.
The National Care Forum (NCF) poll of 332 care homes found that 9% of staff and 12% of residents had still not been tested.
The survey follows the government’s claim to have met its target of offering tests to every elderly care home resident and staff member by early June under its whole home testing programme which launched on 11 May. Data from the survey suggests either this has not happened or care homes have been unable to access tests for other reasons such as staff absences, new staff or new admissions.
The analysis, which stresses the importance of routine testing as part of an effective test and trace system as demonstrated by international evidence, found it took an average of between 1-2 days and 3-4 days to receive test results with the longest delays taking up to 28 days.
Only 3% of staff and 8% of residents tested positive, with 53% and 30% of these, respectively, asymptomatic, demonstrating the vital need for routine and repeat testing.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the NCF, said: “Testing of all those receiving care in care homes and the staff delivering it must continue to be an absolute priority. What we see from the results is the need for ongoing routine and regular testing of residents and staff in care homes.
“It’s encouraging to see the high number of care homes that have received COVID-19 testing to date, but this cannot be a one-time arrangement. It is vital that we move to regular and repeat testing in our fight against COVID-19 in care homes, in order to continue to keep people safe and prevent the spread of infection.
“We’re encouraged to seeing some improvements to the speed of receiving test results. However, we cannot lose sight of the number of residents and staff who are testing positive and are asymptomatic. This is a worrying trend that can only be effectively managed through repeat testing.
“In the past few months we have surveyed our members to gauge their experience of the testing arrangements and to get a clear picture of what’s happening on the ground. Our survey results highlight that we can’t take our eye off the ball just yet. Access to the right type of tests for vulnerable people must happen quickly and all care home residents and staff offered routine tests.”