Updated guidance on coronavirus testing in extra care and supported living services

04 March 2021

Updated guidance on coronavirus testing in extra care and supported living services now defines supported living settings that will be required to carry out weekly polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and lateral flow tests or just weekly PCR tests. Eligibility is determined by whether the settings are seen as ‘high risk’ or ‘wider’, which are defined below.

The government is running weekly webinars on how to access, prepare for and administer the tests. This is also an opportunity to raise any queries about the scheme.

Eligibility

Settings that qualify will be identified by their local authority and given a Unique Organisation Number (UON) to join the scheme if they do not already have a UON.

Which testing programme is available to your setting is dependent on whether you meet one or both of the eligibility criteria:

  • A closed community with substantial facilities shared between multiple people.
  • A service where most residents receive the kind of personal care that is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (rather than help with cooking, cleaning and shopping).

These criteria were set to identify settings most similar to care homes and most at risk of outbreaks.

  • ‘High risk’ extra care and supported living settings are defined as settings that meet both of these criteria. These settings should test staff using both PCR and lateral flow tests and residents using PCR tests.
  • ‘Wider’ extra care and supported living settings are defined as settings that meet one or other of these criteria. These settings should test staff using PCR tests only.

Local authorities will be asked to confirm which group (high risk or wider) each setting should be included in during the referral process. If you believe you are higher risk but cannot order tests, please contact your local authority.

Definitions

We asked the government for clarification on what is meant by “substantial shared facilities”. They have confirmed that this means communal areas, lounges, shared bathrooms and shared kitchens where people will be mingling on a day-to-day basis.

The communal aspect is relevant to residents, so will not include settings where there is a canteen cooking for residents and delivering food to them. The shared facilities include those that are currently closed because of the restrictions but would normally be open.

Visitor testing

Visitor testing will be available in care homes but is not yet offered in extra care and supported living services, but this is on the government’s radar. We will update members if there are changes to this setup.

Who to speak to

Suzannah Young, Policy Officer