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Supporting health and social care providers in Devon

Testing (COVID-19)

Last Updated 10:00am, 23 November 2020


If you have any specific issues or questions that you would like to raise with us please do so as follows:

National ‘Getting Tested’ overall guidance webpage

A range of national guidance on testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested featuring videos on drive-through testing, self-testing and swabbing and a care homes testing tutorial can be found at the Getting Tested page.

How to report symptoms and confirmed COVID-19 test results in your social care provision

For symptomatic clients the following protocol needs to be followed:

  1. Alert DCC by emailing the COVID mailbox. All symptomatic cases need to be flagged irrespective of whether they are DCC, CCG, DPT or self-funded.
  2. For regulated: providers must update CQC Home Care Tracker (Personal Care) or Care Homes Tracker (Care Homes).

For symptomatic staff or those who are required to self-isolate the following protocol needs to be followed:

  1. Alert DCC by emailing the COVID mailbox.
  2. For regulated: providers must update CQC Home Care Tracker (Personal Care) or Care Homes Tracker (Care Homes).

For confirmed cases following a positive test result immediately take these actions in addition to the above:

  1. Notify Public Health England by calling 0300 303 8162, Option 1 then Option 1 again.
  2. Alert DCC by emailing the COVID mailbox.
  3. For regulated: providers must update CQC Home Care Tracker (Personal Care) or Care Homes Tracker (Care Homes).
  4. For staff members only: A RIDDOR report is required where the member of staff is known to have contracted coronavirus through contact with a confirmed positive case through the course of their work.
    Reporting should be made in accordance with advice offered by the Health & Safety Executive.

Staff do not always need to self-isolate if a service user tests positive

Please note that section 6 of the national guidance for health and social care settings covers ‘Contact risk assessment and exemption criteria’.

That guidance states that if health and social care staff are providing direct care to a patient or a resident with COVID-19 and are wearing the correct PPE in accordance with the current IPC guidance, they will NOT be considered as a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation, and will NOT be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

If, however, a staff member has been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient or service user while not wearing PPE, or had a breach in their PPE while providing personal care, they should inform their line manager, who must then complete a risk assessment and follow guidance accordingly.
If the risk assessment concludes there has been a significant breach or close contact without PPE, the worker should remain off work for 14 days.

Antibody testing: questions answered

We have produced two sets of questions and answers about antibody tests: one for care home staff and one for all other adult social care staff.

New antibody testing for all adult social care staff

The Government have launched a new at-home antibody testing service which is now available to all staff in the adult social care sector in England.

The Department of Health and Social Care are inviting all staff in the adult social care sector to register . Please encourage your staff sign up on the portal

People who are eligible for the antibody test are personal assistants who provide care and support, staff working in residential care, domiciliary care, extra care, supported living, and local authority adult social care departments.

An antibody test result can only tell an individual whether or not they have had the virus in the past and developed antibodies. Therefore, regardless of the result of an antibody test, individuals must continue to comply with government guidelines, including wearing PPE and social distancing.

This testing is separate from weekly swab retesting and outbreak testing by PHE and local HPTs, and that swab retesting of all staff and residents in care homes continues as a priority, even if individuals receive a positive antibody test result.

Find out more about what an antibody test is.

All questions about booking antibody tests should be sent to and 119 are able to answer questions and provide support with regards to antibody test results.

Antibody testing: social care staff in phase 2

Although antibody (serology) testing is now being offered to NHS staff, social care staff will be included in phase 2 of antibody testing and will be made available when national guidance for this phase is issued.

In the meantime, in relation to antibody testing, please note that:

  • The antibody test is a venous blood test
  • A positive test result only means than an individual has had COVID-19 in the past
  • It does not mean you are currently infected, so you should continue to work as normal
  • Even if you receive a positive test, you still have to follow all social distancing and infection control measures

There is currently no evidence to show that a positive test means someone cannot be re-infected with the virus or pass it on to others, or have immunity.
The test is only available to staff, not family members.

The antibody testing programme will provide information on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the peninsula to help better understand how the disease spreads.
It works alongside the swab testing programme, which confirms whether or not someone currently has the virus.

Testing for all care homes

All care homes can now apply for coronavirus testing kits to test residents and staff, regardless of whether or not anyone has coronavirus symptoms via the National Testing Portal.

You will need:

  • your care home’s CQC location ID
  • your total number of residents, including (if any) the number of residents with coronavirus symptoms
  • your total number of staff, including agency staff
  • your contact details
  • you will also require your UON number.  If you do not know your UON, you can search for it using your existing organisation ID.

As part of the efforts to make testing accessible care homes will be able to bulk register tests, which will speed up the process and alleviate the administrative burden.
This new digital offer has been tested with care home managers before launch to ensure that it meets their needs. Guidance has been issued to all care homes about how the bulk registration process will work.
There is also a dedicated national helpline to support providers. Please go via the national portal for testing, dial 119 then Option 1, 1, 2, 1, 3.

Capacity for testing via the National Testing Portal has been substantially increased and we are strongly encouraging eligible providers to register as a matter of priority.

Please note if you ‘cut and paste’ your CQC ID number from the CQC website into the portal it may accept it if typing it in does not work.  If you continue to experience difficulties please let us know at

Devon care home visits testing pilot

Devon has been selected as a Department of Health and Social Care pilot for testing visitors to care homes. The pilot will use a combination of weekly testing of regular visitors and new tests, which visitors take before entering the home with results within 15 – 30 minutes.
Devon homes were asked to volunteer via the WhatsApp group.
Further information is available from the press release.

Whole home testing – information sheet and routes for testing in Adult Social Care

The attached documents outlines key testing provision and approach for staff and residents in care homes and the routes for testing.

Whole Home testing for care home staff and residents. Information sheet for providers.

Coronavirus tests available for adult social care in England

Promoting weekend testing in care homes

A campaign is being launched this week to promote weekend testing in care homes. The Government are asking care homes to consider testing at weekends where possible to help them get a test to everyone who needs it. Additionally, if homes test at the weekend, the labs are less busy, and result will be quicker.

Devon County Council would like to encourage care homes to test over a full seven days wherever possible to make full use of the testing capacity.

How home care providers can support Test and Trace

Staff from NHS Test and Trace or other public health professionals may contact home care providers if one of their staff or service users has tested positive for coronavirus in order to alert those who have been in close contact with them.
Home care providers can assist NHS Test and Trace by keeping a temporary record of their care staff and recipients of care. Many providers will already have the necessary record systems to store and provide this information on request. In these cases, providers do not need to duplicate records.
If you do not currently have a system to record this information, this should be done in a way that is manageable for your business, but sufficiently detailed to effectively support NHS Test and Trace.
It is recommended that providers ensure that their systems are set up in such a way that this information can be reported rapidly on request and identify the person(s) who can produce this information at short notice.
If a provider is contacted, the following information may be requested at short notice:

  • the name and telephone number for a home care worker
  • the dates and times that a home care worker is at work
  • a log of the care worker’s visits to individuals receiving care for the previous 21 days. This should include, where possible, arrival and departure times of their visit, as well as a record of the name and residence of any individual(s) they provided care to (‘the client’)
  • the name and telephone number of the client and/or the client’s representative
  • the names and telephone numbers of other home care workers, when working in close proximity (for example, during a ‘double up’ visit)

National guidance for home care contains further information and there is guidance on How NHS Test and Trace works and on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors.

Swabbing guidance

Public Health have produced guidance on the use of swabs.

Recall of Randox test kits

After telling care homes not to use Randox test kits on 16 July, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are now recalling this product and the recall statement explains how to return the kits.

Local Coordination Centres

There are a number of options available to obtain a COVID-19 test for care staff and residents in Devon.

There are 3 local coordination centres in Devon to support your access to the acute hospitals testing facilities. The referral routes are listed below.

Please note that NHS staffing forms and NHS email contacts are currently in use. These will be updated for the care sector in due course, but for now, please use them.

Northern and Eastern Coordination Centre

To complete the online form, click this link: Online Referral Form

South Devon and Torbay Coordination Centre

To book a testing appointment email:

Plymouth, West Devon and East Cornwall Coordination Centre

Email to book a testing appointment

These testing routes include options to test asymptomatic care staff/residents and domiciliary care agencies in the event of an outbreak and will also arrange testing for people awaiting admission to a care home.

If you need to refer multiple people for testing, please email: in the first instance, to discuss your requirements.

Each coordination centre will be able to discuss your options for obtaining a COVID-19 test, these options include attending a local testing site.

Local support with testing

Devon is experiencing some problems with accessing COVID-19 testing as a result of national laboratory capacity for analysing tests being directed to areas elsewhere with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 cases. This is a national issue. As a result, we are working hard to put additional local arrangements in place to boost our local testing availability until national testing capacity can be increased. Care homes will continue to be a top priority for testing.

If a member of staff or resident has symptoms please book a test as normal via the government website

If you are unable to book a slot please email and you will be contacted by someone who will direct you to the nearest testing centre.

National Self-Referral Portal

A test can be applied for via this portal if you are an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms.

If you meet the eligibility criteria listed in the portal you can attend one of the following drive-through testing sites in Devon, run by the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Seaton Barracks, William Prance Road, Plymouth PL6 5ZD
  • Honiton Road Park and Ride, 15 Moor Lane, Exeter EX2 7NL
  • Or you can request a Home Testing Kit

A number of pop up mobile testing sites are available.

Test and Trace: response to provider queries

Guidance on the national Test and Trace service was published on 27 May 2020.

Since then, we have received a number of enquiries from providers raising concerns at the potential impact on the availability of staff in their settings given the potential for self-isolation.

Please note this published guidance signposts to separate guidance for health and care workers on testing which was updated on 31 May 2020. This followed publication of a letter from Ros Roughton, Director General of Social Care at DHSC, which outlined how the test and trace guidance about isolating after ‘close contact’ with someone with symptoms or COVID-19, would apply to care settings.

This specifies that the process for such staff is different depending on whether the contact was made in the community or in a health and care work setting.

In the former case, the guidance applies as it does to any other person – refer to the Test and Trace guidance.

In the latter case, if the contact occurred when the staff member was wearing appropriate PPE for the setting and activity, no further action is usually required.

If appropriate PPE was not being used, or there was a breach in the PPE, then this should be reported to the person’s line manager who is asked to carry out a risk assessment as detailed in section 4 of the guidance.

This puts further emphasis on the correct usage of PPE appropriate to the activity and setting. It also puts emphasis on the importance of social distancing when not wearing PPE in the work setting including in staff rooms when taking breaks. And also in doing all we can to limit the number of staff working in a setting and contact between them as outlined in the recently updated guidance on infection prevention and control.

The national Test and Trace service is new and its implementation is still being worked through. We are seeking further clarification for its application in health and care settings and colleagues should check the national guidance for updates if and when such incidents occur.

Ongoing support

We are here to support you with your questions and/or queries relating to testing.

Please contact this mailbox in the first instance:

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