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Call for urgent government action on care home testing

Leading national care homes group Kingsley Healthcare is urging that the government delivers on its promise to roll out regular Covid 19 testing to all care home staff and residents.

Ministers had pledged to have sufficient test kits available by the summer for all care home staff to be tested weekly and residents monthly.

Eugene Nyamande, Director of Compliance at Kingsley Healthcare, national top 20 large care home provider, said: “The government’s plan was designed to ensure that care homes have a test and trace mechanism in place to minimise the risk of an outbreak affecting the most vulnerable members of our society.

“However, since the introduction of the process, we have ordered testing kits via the government portal but have only very recently received about 10% of the monthly required number of test kits to cover our needs as a group nationally . We have chased this up through many different organisations, including the Care Quality Commission, Local Authority and Public Health England, but without any success.

“We contacted the Department of Health and were informed that there is a capacity issue, but they were not able to tell us when this would be rectified or to give us delivery dates. We have a duty of care to our staff and residents and the lack of appropriate testing measures in place gives us as a provider grave concerns as the country has begun to open up and localised hotspots are being identified.”

  Kingsley CEO Daya Thayan said: “It is testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff and the support we received from families and the wider community that we thankfully only had a Covid outbreak in eight of our homes nationally.

“However, with an increasing number of experts now predicting a second wave of the virus, possibly worse than the first one, it is imperative that the government delivers on its promise to protect care homes.

“We appreciate the government’s effort to help the care home industry which employs 1.8m. However, its ultimate strategy must be to introduce measures to make sure that care homes are treated as part of a national healthcare strategy and as a complement to the NHS.”

He said that during such an immensely difficult period he wanted to thank commissioners from local authorities, social services and the NHS for their support.

Mr Nyamande said the government also needed to refine its latest guidelines regarding family visits to care homes.

He said: “We welcome the government’s announcement that visits to care homes by family members can start again as this will give a great boost to the mental health and wellbeing of our residents and their relatives.

“However, we would point out that the stipulation there can be only one visitor per resident is fraught with difficulties. Many residents have more than one child for instance.

“We would also have welcomed clear timescales on when local authority infection control directors introduce the new visiting rules regionally. As you will understand, families have waited four months to see their loved ones and would want to visit immediately.”

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