Latest coronavirus guidance and information for housing associations

24 March 2022

As rules and guidelines develop to reflect the changing situation, we have summarised the announcements which affect housing associations.

This resource will continue to be updated in accordance with the latest guidelines.

Living with covid

The government has now removed all legal restrictions designed to contain coronavirus. In place of the previous Plan A, government has put forward its ‘Living with Covid’ plan. The central features of this are:

  • The legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test has been removed.
  • Adults and children who test positive will still be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others – if the individual shows negative tests on days five and six they can return to their normal routine.
  • Those who test positive should still always avoid contact with people in at risk groups.
  • Specific guidance will be available for staff in services supporting vulnerable people. Symptomatic (PCR) testing will continue to be available for social care staff.
  • From 1 April, lateral flow tests will no longer be free for most people, though there will be limited tests available for some at risk groups (further details will be announced).
  • There will be continued support in encouraging the take up of vaccines amongst care recipients and staff, including any recommended further doses.
  • There will be ongoing guidance on precautions for visitors and workers in social care.

Care homes

Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Housing associations that are CQC registered providers will be able to access free PPE until at least March 2023. Most primary and social care services can obtain all of their COVID-19 PPE via the PPE portal.
  • As well as the portal, each local authority or LRF will supply some or all of the following services:
    • Local authorities (including children and adult social care workers)
    • Mental health community care.
    • Personal assistants (LA, CCG commissioned and funded through personal health budgets).
    • Domestic violence refuges.
    • Rough sleeping services.
    • Education (and childcare) services.
    • Extra-resident unpaid carers.
    • Social and primary care providers on the PPE portal in clinical need – for example, if there’s an increase in local COVID-19 cases or temporary difficulties accessing other distribution channels.
    • Local authorities and Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) have also been supporting other sectors that cannot use the PPE portal, including:
    • Self-funded personal assistants.
    • Supported living.
    • Extra care.
    • Shared lives.
    • Day services.
  • We are working to confirm with DLUHC that housing associations who are not CQC registered providers will have guaranteed access to PPE until March 2023. We will keep this page updated as these discussions progress.

Infection control in care and support settings

Visiting into and out of a care homes

  • As of 31 January there  are no limits on the number of visitors allowed into care homes.
  • Government guidance emphasises the need for care home providers to facilitate visits wherever possible and to do so in a risk managed way. This is achievable by adhering to infection control measures, individualised risk assessments, testing arrangements and insisting on isolation on return from some high-risk activities.
  • Most visits out will not require self-isolation on return, though a risk assessment should be completed. Residents should isolate for a maximum of 10 days after an emergency stay in hospital or any other high-risk visit out. During this isolation period, visits out can still take place as long as a risk assessment is done, the visitor is not visiting another social care setting and consideration is taken about the vulnerabilities of those they are visiting.
  • Self-isolation periods for residents have been reduced from 14 to a maximum of 10 days with providers only having to follow outbreak management rules for 14 rather than 28 days. Essential care givers are still allowed to visit during outbreaks.
  • From 16 February, care workers will be able to use lateral flow tests before their shifts, replacing the current system involving weekly asymptomatic PCR tests.
  • The government has published separate guidance which details what is advised around admissions to and care of people in care homes. Please refer to government guidance on visits in and out of supported living and extra care settings.

Landlord and tenant guidance, maintenance work and evictions

  • On 19 January 2022 government updated its coronavirus guidance for landlords and tenants, including details around possession action proceedings and evictions.
  • Repairs and maintenance work can and should continue as normal. Masks are advisable in these situations, but are not mandated. The only exception to this is if a member of a household in question is self-isolating then no works should be carried out – unless it is to ‘remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household or the public’.

Supported living

Updated guidance is available for supported living settings, including information on maintaining service delivery, vaccinations and testing.

Use of indoor spaces

  • Guidance on use of shared space stresses the ongoing need for strict cleaning regimes, good ventilation and compliance with rules on household mixing. The guidance states that "in sheltered and supported housing landlords and scheme managers should undertake their own local risk assessment, balancing the importance of measures that can assist residents’ wider well-being and independence and the need to have the right infection control measures in place."
  • The government has updated their specific guidance around the ventilation of indoor spaces to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Vaccine rollout

Testing information

General testing

  • We have detailed guidance on our coronavirus testing page outlining the latest information and guidance around testing for housing associations.

Economic support for individuals self-isolating

  • The Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme has now closed. If an individual was told to self-isolate before 24 February, they can still make a claim within 42 days of the first isolation, no later than 6 April. 

Who to speak to

Contact the team