Rapid coronavirus tests arriving this week at care homes
- Credit: Iceni House
Rapid coronavirus testing kits are being sent to care homes in Norfolk and Waveney this week - prompting a mixed reaction among bosses to the prospect of more family members visiting loved ones in the run-up to Christmas.
The lateral flow tests, which can provide a result in half an hour, will enable two named family members to be tested each time they visit a resident. It has been expected this would allow them to hug and hold hands.
Testing will begin next Monday (December 21) at a number of care homes operated by Kingsley Healthcare.
Eugene Nyamande, its director of compliance, has confirmed that the homes to have received the kits in Norfolk and Waveney are Downham Grange in Downham Market, Thorp House in Griston and Kirkley Manor in Lowestoft.
Mr Nyamende said: “We will start using them to test residents’ family members from next Monday (December 21).
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“This is because staff first have to be trained to use them properly and each home has to buy a gazebo to carry out the testing as the rules state the testing has to take place in an area separate from the home.”
Any remaining tests are expected to arrive this week.
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Burgh House, a residential care home outside Great Yarmouth, has also received a batch of the tests, some 900 in total, but manager Jospeh Greiner said he has no plans to start testing until the residents' families have had their say.
He said: "There are serious concerns around the accuracy of the test, so we're holding fire for the time being, until we get feedback from the families of residents."
He has written a letter to residents' families, asking them to do their own research into the tests and consider whether or not they would like testing with the new kits to begin.
The care home has 43 residents, meaning if two family members of each resident were to be tested twice each week, that would be almost 52 hours' extra work, he said.
Carl Denis, proprieter of Aylsham Manor, said he had not yet received any of the testing kits - and like Mr Greiner he also expressed caution about the tests, especially as vaccinations are "around the corner".
"I would be very careful with how I advanced it because it's a new process. It would put an extra strain on us," he said.
More than a million rapid-result lateral flow tests have been sent to England's 385 biggest care homes. However, no detail has yet emerged on when smaller homes will receive them.