New government guidelines allowing self-testing mean there will be no more anxious wait at care homes for visitors hoping to see loved ones.
Until now, visitors have had to complete a rapid (LFT) test when they arrive at the care home, waiting 30 minutes for a negative result before being allowed in. The ability to self-test earlier on the day of their visit, means that visitors with negative test results no longer need to arrive half an hour before their pre-booked visiting time.
It also means that anyone without symptoms who has tested positive will have no cause to go to the home, a further step towards keeping residents safe.
Self-testing for care home visitors - a five step guide
1. Order or collect a self-testing kit
You can either order a pack of 7 coronavirus self-testing kits (Lateral Flow Tests) online via the government website, or collect them at your nearest pharmacy. You can check the location of your nearest pharmacy offering this service by visiting the NHS Track and Trace website.
Please allow enough time prior to your intended visit for your test to arrive or for you to collect it, as well as to take your test and register the result. Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs), which are otherwise knownas rapid tests, are only for use when you are asymptomatic, or have no symptoms.
2. Carry out your self-test on the day of your pre-booked care home visit
You will need to do your self-test on the day of your pre-booked care home visit, allowing enough time to receive confimation of your result before arriving at the home.
Top tips for self-testing:
- Do not eat for 30 minutes as it may affect the result
- Read and follow the instructions carefully
- Start the test within 30 minutes of opening the test kit
- Check your results after 30 minutes, but don't leave this any longer
Click on the video below for a step-by-step guide to covid self-testing.
3. Register your test result
Visit the government website to register your test result. You will need to enter:
- Either the barcode on your self-testing kit test strip, or the ID number printed under it. The test strip is the part of the kit that shows your result.
- Contact details to receive a confirmation of your result by text or email (you will need this for your care home visit to go ahead).
- You may also need the care home's UON (unique organisation number) - the home will be able to advise you about this when you call to pre-book your visit.
4. Present your official results confirmation when you arrive at the care home
NHS Track and Trace will send you an email or text confirmation of your self-testing result. If this is negative, your visit will be able to go ahead as planned on the same day.
Show your official confirmation to the home staff on arrival as this is your ticket to being able to visit. Without this, sadly the home will not be able to allow you in to see your loved one.
5. Enjoy your visit
This is the bit that makes it all worthwhile!
Have a fantastic time visiting your loved one, remembering to stay socially distanced from other residents and staff, and wearing the PPE provided for the duration of your visit, to keep everyone safe.