Friday 17 September 2021

Care sector reminded to check PCR test kit expiry dates

The care sector has been reminded to ensure only valid PCR tests are used. NHS Test and Trace lab teams have found a significant number of out-of-date test kits. Results from these are classed as void. A guide to where to find the expiry date is available and urgent queries can be made by calling NHS Test and Trace 119.

Care home workers asked to self-certify they are exempt from vaccination

People working in care homes can from today self-certify that they are exempt from the requirement to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The Department of Health and Social Care said exempt care home workers can sign and give their employer a form to either:

The self-certification process is temporary. Once the NHS COVID Pass system goes live, care home workers will need to apply for a formal medical exemption.

Thursday 16 September 2021

COVID-19 Booster programme announced for winter

Frontline social care workers and all adults aged 50 and over should be offered a third dose COVID-19 booster vaccine. This is the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on a booster programme. The Committee advises that the third doses should be offered no earlier than six months after completion of the first vaccine course.

COVID-19 autumn and winter Plan unveiled

The Government has set out details of its autumn and winter COVID-19 response. COVID-19 Response – Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 includes a 'plan A' and 'plan B'. The plan B would only be enacted if the data suggests further measures are necessary to protect the NHS.

Data on vaccine effectiveness updated

Data on the real-world efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines has been updated with a study report on the effectiveness of the Comirnaty, Vaxzevria and Spikevax vaccines.

Guidance on protecting clinically extremely vulnerable people highlighted

Guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 has been highlighted following the end of the shielding programme.

Care providers reminded over cleaning products

Care providers have been reminded they need to be aware of Government guidance on cleaning products. The reminder came after some providers had in some settings returned to using cleaning products that were in use prior to the pandemic.

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Care home workers reminded to get their first COVID-19 vaccine by Thursday

The deadline for care home workers to get their first COVID-19 vaccine dose is this Thursday. This is so they will be fully vaccinated by 11 November as required by law, unless they are medically exempt. 

Questions over COVID-19 vaccination answered

The Department for Health and Social Care has highlighted resources for those with concerns over the vaccine. The resources include: 

  • Answers to questions raised over the legal requirement for care home workers to get the vaccine
  • A video myth-busting concerns over the vaccine's effects on pregnancy and fertility  
  • Personal testimony from vaccinated care staff

A full communications toolkit to support vaccination uptake in adult social care has also been made available.

Consultation on making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all frontline care staff launched

The Government is seeking views on plans for staff in health and care settings in England to be required to have COVID-19 and flu vaccines to protect vulnerable people.

The six-week consultation is on whether the requirement should apply to all frontline health and care workers and not just those working in care homes. It also asks whether it should apply to people who receive care.

Social Care Day of Remembrance and Reflection announced

A Social Care Day of Remembrance and Reflection will take place in March 2022 and is hosted by The Care Workers' Charity. It has been endorsed by the Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care Deborah Sturdy in a heartfelt blog post

Life assurance scheme for frontline care workers

A new life assurance scheme has been introduced for frontline health and social care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Details of eligibility and how to claim have been provided by the NHS Business Services Authority.

Guidance on flu immunisation for care staff unveiled

Flu vaccination for social care staff directly working with people clinically vulnerable to flu has been encouraged by the Government. Public Health England guidance has been published to ensure there is high uptake of the flu vaccine this season.

Tuesday 7 September 2021

Reminder for care home providers to provide workforce updates

Local authorities and clinical commissioning groups have reminded care home providers to keep updating the national capacity tracker. It is important that red, amber or green workforce status ratings are correct and updated every day. 

This information provides an early alert should workforce levels be at risk of breaching agreed staffing ratios. This allows local authorities to more rapidly act on workforce shortages, including by supporting recruitment efforts.

For each day, care home providers should enter:

  • How many staff they currently have in total, not how many were due to work a shift that day
  • How many staff were due to work that day but were absent due to sickness (so not any staff who were not down to work a shift)
  • How many of the absent staff did not come in to work due to COVID-19, and how many were off sick for other reasons

Thursday 2 September 2021

Third dose to be offered to people with severely weakened immune systems 

People with severely weakened immune systems should have a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Government has said.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said a third dose may better protect people over 12 who were severely immunosuppressed when they had their first or second doses. 

This includes people with leukaemia, advanced HIV or who had had a recent organ transplant.

The Health and Social Care Secretary accepted the recommendation. Sajid Javid said the NHS will contact people to arrange appointments for a third dose where this is clinically appropriate.

The offer is separate to any potential 'booster' programme. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is still considering the potential benefits of booster third vaccines for the rest of the population.

Tuesday 31 August 2021

COVID-19: how to work safely in domiciliary care in England

A resource for care workers offers advice on using personal protective equipment in these settings:

  • visiting homecare
  • extra care housing
  • live-in homecare

This information should be used alongside the video guide to putting on and taking off PPE - a guide for care homes. This is just as relevant for people working in home care. 

Thursday 26 August 2021

COVID-19: supporting adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults

Guidance on supporting adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults will help care staff to:

  • keep people with learning disabilities and autistic people safe
  • support them to understand the changes they need to make during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • protect their own wellbeing.

COVID-19: providing unpaid care to adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults

Guidance will help people who are providing unpaid care to adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to:

  • keep people with learning disabilities and autistic people safe
  • support them to understand the changes they need to make during the COVID-19 outbreak and protect their own wellbeing

New study to test third COVID-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systems

A new clinical trial will investigate whether a third dose of vaccine gives people with weakened immune systems a stronger immune response than two doses. The OCTAVE DUO study will offer people who are immunosuppressed or immunocompromised a Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccine to determine whether this will give a stronger immune response than 2 doses.

So far, data from Public Health England shows COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant, the dominant strain in the UK.

The analysis shows that, across all adults, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation after 2 doses. COVID-19 vaccines have saved around 95,200 lives and prevented 82,100 hospitalisations and 23.9 million infections in England alone, the latest data from PHE and Cambridge University shows.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

The How to Work Safely in Domiciliary Care guidance has been updated and now includes a paragraph on what PPE to use when supporting an individual or client on visits out.

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19): providing unpaid care

Find information for people who are caring, unpaid, for friends or family during the coronavirus outbreak. This now includes guidance on making alternative care arrangements when the carer or the person they care for has symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test or is a close contact of someone with a positive test result.

COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients and residents in health and social care settings

This guidance is intended for staff and managers in health and social care settings and includes:

  • guidance relating to health and social care staff if they develop coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, receive a positive test result or are identified as a contact of a COVID-19 case
  • guidance on isolation requirements for patients and residents in health and social care settings after contact with COVID-19 cases
  • guidance on repeat testing for COVID-19 for staff, patients and residents in health and social care settings.
  • Symptomatic worker: Flowchart describing return to work following a SARS-CoV-2 test

Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) before hospital

This guidance sets out how and when to use a PCR home test kit to test for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure. It details how to: check the test kit contents, prepare, take and package your swab sample, return your completed test kit and get your test results by text. “Testing for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure’ was updated to replace 119 phone number with 0800 0511 811.

Visiting arrangements in care homes

This guidance is for directors of public health, care providers and others who will be involved in planning to enable visits to care homes. It sets out:

  • an overview of the visiting practices supported by this guidance
  • advice for providers when establishing their visiting policy
  • advice for providers when taking visiting decisions for particular residents or groups of residents
  • advice on delivering safe visiting, with and without testing
  • information on visiting in exceptional circumstances such as end of life

This guidance should be read alongside arrangements for visiting outside of the care home.

Monday 23 August 2021

New guidance for self-isolation

Most fully vaccinated care staff who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases can now routinely return to work, the Government has announced.

This is provided they have had a negative PCR test. Daily rapid lateral flow tests will need to be taken for 10 days as a precaution.

Staff working with clinically extremely vulnerable patients or service users will need a risk assessment before they return to work.

Self-isolation is also no longer required for fully vaccinated residents, following the latest changes to admissions and care of residents guidance.

Vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes: operational guidance

Anyone working in a Care Quality Commission regulated care home will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from 11 November, unless they are exempt, new guidance says.

This includes volunteers and visiting professionals, including hairdressers, tradespeople, beauticians and healthcare workers. This guidance has been produced to help support the implementation of the coronavirus regulations

Skills for Care have collated resources to help care providers with implementation.

COVID-19 vaccines offer good protection against new infections: study 

A new study has shown that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine offers the same levels of protection against coronavirus after four to five months as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Both COVID-19 vaccines still offer good protection against new infections, but effectiveness is reduced compared with the Alpha variant. 

Research published this week by the University of Oxford and the Nuffield Department of Medicine looked at the impact of the Delta variant and vaccine effectiveness. 

It found that two doses of either vaccine provide at least the same level of protection as having had COVID-19 through natural infection. 

The study also found that the time between doses does not impact effectiveness in preventing new infections. 

New guidance for care workers and people they care for in supported living

New guidance is for providers of supported living settings sets out:

  • key messages to assist with putting local procedures can be put in place to minimise risk and provide the best possible support to people in supported living
  • safe systems of working, including social distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene, and enhanced cleaning
  • how infection prevention and control and personal protective equipment apply to supported living settings

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