Last Updated 16:26pm, 2 September 2021
Self-isolation exemption guidance for care workers
The government has announced that children and fully vaccinated adults will be free to return to work, attend school, and meet friends and family as the protection from vaccines replaces the need for contact isolation from Monday 16 August 2021.
Additional guidance applies to fully vaccinated health and social care staff who are close contacts of cases and asymptomatic. They will be able to routinely return to work, provided they have had a negative PCR test. Daily LFD tests will need to be taken for 10 days following the last contact with the infected person as a precaution and IPC and PPE guidance will apply as usual.
Staff working with patients or service users who are considered particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 will need a risk assessment to be carried out by a designated person in the workplace before they return to work. The existing risk assessment form can be adapted for this purpose.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who does this process apply to?
The ‘Exemption from Self-isolation’ process applies to frontline health and social care staff who have been asked by Test and Trace via phone or App to self-isolate because they have had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Do any conditions apply?
To qualify, the staff member should have received both doses of an approved vaccine at least 14 days previously.
This exemption also applies to other fully vaccinated adults and all children.
Health and care workers are expected to undertake a PCR test with a negative result and daily LFD tests before their shift with negative results for 10 days after their last contact with the infected person.
For health and care workers expected to be in contact with people particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 a risk assessment also applies.
When is a risk assessment necessary?
A risk assessment is only necessary if the member of staff is expected to have contact with one or more persons who are considered particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
Who is responsible for the Risk Assessment?
The registered manager or other responsible person nominated by the provider is responsible for the completion of the risk assessment.
What is the purpose of the Risk Assessment?
The Risk Assessment is intended to establish whether the risk to people’s health, safety and wellbeing is greater from staffing absence than it is from the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Will Devon County Council sign-off each Risk Assessment?
From 16 August 2021 providers are not required to submit any risk assessment to Devon County Council.
What should managers take into consideration when carrying out risk assessments?
The manager should work through the questions on the form, considering:
- The vaccine status of the staff member. This measure is only available to staff who are fully vaccinated.
- That the staff member has followed all testing requirements.
- The likely harm caused to residents or service users if the staff member does not return to work.
- The level of contact between the member of staff and residents or service users who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.
What steps should the affected staff member take when using this exemption?
- The manager and staff member work through the mitigations on the form, considering:
- The staff member would have to self-isolate until they have a negative PCR test result.
- The staff member would take daily LFD tests, report the results daily to the NHS Test and Trace via the web portal and their line manager and self-isolate immediately if they test positive.
- The staff member will have to self-isolate if they show any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild and get a new PCR test. They would then need to self-isolate and could only go to work if the new PCR test was negative.
- Staff members should only attend work after confirmation of a negative PCR test and daily negative LFD antigen tests.
- Close contact with those particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 should be limited wherever possible.
- The staff member should follow all relevant IPC and PPE guidance.
How will these tests be made available to staff working in the community, who do not currently have LFD testing as part of their testing requirement, so they can comply with new guidance?
If unavailable to request from employers, LFD tests are available to order free from the GOV.UK website, collect from a pharmacy, from a community centre, such as a library or get a test at a site.
What is a ‘health and care setting’?
A ‘health and care setting’ is any setting, not just care homes (excluding children’s home) i.e. including supported living, domiciliary care etc.
What is the difference between ‘highly vulnerable’ and ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV)?
The term ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV) is defined in the guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. The term ‘highly vulnerable’ allows more flexibility than the specific definition of CEV. When making assessments about patients or service users’ needs, consideration should be given to those who are CEV as well as those who may be highly vulnerable due to having conditions including dementia, behavioural issues or who are not yet fully vaccinated.