PILOT PROJECT OF TESTING REGIME FOR CARE HOME RESIDENTS AND FAMILIES
With the incidence of Covid-19 rising, Buckinghamshire’s health service workers are once more working with our councils and other agencies to counter the spread of this terrible virus. Those who work in our care homes are also doing everything they can to make sure that residents live safely and securely.
However, there’s no doubt that life since the first lockdown has been very difficult for families and friends who are not able to visit their loved ones, with the pain of enforced separation very hard to bear for everyone concerned. And we have made advances in the kinds of tests that are available so that people can be tested for Covid-19.
In Chalfont St Peter, the Epilepsy Society care home looks after a number of vulnerable residents. I heard early in the autumn that the home was locked down again. In the words of one relative, the staff have “worked wonders in keeping residents safe and secure”. Having heard the news at that time, that Heathrow and other airports were able to administer 60-minute tests, I asked the Health Secretary whether this technology could be adopted to help care home residents in future.
The Rt Hon Matt Hancock told me, “ Yes. We absolutely want to use this sort of testing as it becomes more widely available.”
Of course, with the further lockdown, there have been continued restrictions. However, starting on Monday 16 November, there will be a trial period – in around 20 homes – with testing. The aim is to have a testing regime in place in care homes across the country for Christmas.
We all know that the priority must be protecting care home residents and staff, but we also know what emotional well-being can result in the long-term for everyone involved, if it can be achieved safely.