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Care homes have been given access to coronavirus testing for all new residents after HuffPost UK revealed some people were forced to lie to obtain a negative test result that would allow them to enter residential care.
Previously, tests could only be accessed by people in the community if they had coronavirus symptoms, but care homes were reluctant to admit people unless they could provide a negative result.
HuffPost UK heard the story of one woman who was advised by her GP and social worker to lie about her 97-year-old mother having symptoms so she could get a test that would allow her to enter respite care if the result was negative.
On Friday, government guidelines on care admissions were changed to ensure all those entering homes get tests, to stop the disease spreading among the elderly and vulnerable.
Care home managers have been told that individuals “should be tested” if they are going into residential care and have not previously been tested within two days of admission.
Homes will get access to so-called “pillar 2” testing – swab testing for the wider population, which was previously only available for people with symptoms.
Managers will also be able to use local testing capacity “or an alternative as they see fit”.
If they believe “pillar 1” testing, normally reserved for those with a clinical need, health and care workers, is more appropriate, they can contact their local public health director.
If the test is positive, the care home manager should inform the individual’s GP and, if they have already been transferred to the care home, the local health protection team as they would with any symptomatic individual in their home, the new guidance says.
The government has been severely criticised for its policy on care homes in the early stages of the pandemic, following the deaths of thousands of residents.