News Page 3 (January 2022 on)

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DHSC Guidance Update Jan. 13th 2022

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in adult care homes

How to access test kits and step-by-step guides on how to use PCR and rapid lateral flow test kits for regular and outbreak testing of residents, staff and visiting professionals.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-in-adult-care-homes


Great news, the PPE portal is to remain open and free to ASC until March 2023:

Detail of outcome

The government hosted a public consultation from 1 October to 31 October 2021 on whether to extend the central, free provision of all items of COVID-19 PPE provided to the health and care sector for a further year. This is the formal government response to that consultation.

Overall, the consultation responses showed that the overwhelming majority of health and care providers are strongly in favour of the option to extend the provision of free PPE.

The government has decided to extend free PPE to health and care sectors by up to one year to March 2023 or until the infection prevention and control guidance on PPE usage for COVID-19 is either withdrawn or significantly amended (whichever is sooner).


DHSC GUIDANCE UPDATE – PCR testing

The guidance was updated this morning to clarify this in section 4: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-management-of-exposed-healthcare-workers-and-patients-in-hospital-settings/covid-19-management-of-exposed-healthcare-workers-and-patients-in-hospital-settings

“Asymptomatic staff, patients and residents who do not have severe immunosuppression, and who have previously tested positive for COVID by LFD OR PCR test should be exempt from routine testing by PCR test within 90 days from their initial illness onset or test date.”

So, they should pause routine PCR testing for 90 days following a positive LFD.

Further information

  • Confirmatory PCR tests temporarily suspended – Following a positive LFD, there will be no need for a confirmatory PCR apart from in specific circumstances. However, anyone who has symptoms should continue to take a PCR test and follow the self-isolation guidance. This is laid out in Section 2.2.
  • Test to release – Section 2.2 lays out how a staff member who has had a positive LFD or PCR test result can end their 10-day isolation early. If they have negative LFD results on days 6+7 they can return to work (we are clarifying whether this is on day 7 or 8) but they must continue to take LFD tests for the remainder of the 10 days. If the staff member’s LFD test result continues to be positive on the 10th day, they should continue to take daily LFD tests, and can return to work after a single negative LFD test result. If the staff member’s LFD test result is still positive on the 14th day, they can stop testing and return to work on day 15.
  • When does the self-isolation period begin? – Clarity has been added that the self-isolation period if you test positive begins from symptoms onset or from a positive result, whether that is from a PCR or LFD. This is in Section 2.2.
  • Testing within 90 days – Individuals who have received a positive PCR or LFD result should be exempt from routine PCR testing within 90 days apart from in certain circumstances. Therefore, they should continue with routine asymptomatic LFD testing during this 90-day period. Advice is also provided on how to handle positive cases within this period. This is all laid out in Section 4

Adult Social Care Omicron Support Fund Grant Condition

The grant conditions for the £60m Adult Social Care Omicron Support Fund have been published. A full briefing is attached and at this link. This was first announced on 29 December as a top-up to the Infection Control and Testing Fund round 3. These grant conditions are in addition to those for the following:

The purpose of this fund is to support the sector with measures already covered by the infection prevention and control (IPC) allocation of the Infection Control and Testing Fund (round 3) to reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission within and between care settings through effective IPC practices. This grant cannot be used for measures already funded by the workforce recruitment and retention funds. The grant conditions also stress that while this grant acts like a ‘top-up’ to the Infection Control and Testing Fund (round 3) it can’t be used to ‘double-fund’ the same activity, it must be something on top of this.

The money will be paid in full in January 2022 and we assume should be used for activities in January 2022. Please see the briefing for a summary of the full grant conditions.


With the recent good news regarding the UKVI announcing that care workers are to be added to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) meaning care workers, care assistants and home care workers could qualify for sponsorship and the Health and Care visa, we have amended the previously posted information, the update is below and we have an event fosussing on this in March.

Vaccination as a condition of deployment in wider social care settings + amendments to VCOD in care homes

The 12-week grace period for VCOD in wider social care settings has begun, following sign-off by the minister. The regulations were debated and passed by parliament before Christmas. This means:

  • 6 January – Regulations made. Start of 12-week grace period.
  • 3 February – 8 weeks before regulations are enforced (and the period required between the first and second vaccination dose).
  • 1 April – Regulations enforced. All staff in scope must be fully vaccinated or have secured a medical exemption.

Wider communications have not yet been issued by DHSC but these will come in the next day or two. The operational guidance has not yet been published but we anticipate this will be next week or early the following week – we have seen and commented on drafts of the guidance. A Q&A will be published alongside digital assets and explainers for stakeholders and providers to use if they wish. In the meantime, please see our briefing from November in response to the initial consultation and our webinar session with Anthony Collins. Do bear in mind that we will be issuing a new briefing once the operational guidance is published.

It is also important to note that the regulations for wider social care settings also amend the existing care home regulations. From today:

  • An unvaccinated new starter can be deployed in a care home 21 days after receiving one dose of an authorised COVID-19 vaccine as long as that dose was received less than 10 weeks ago (a second dose will be required before the end of that 10 weeks)
  • Clinical trial participants can evidence their participation in order to be exempt from the requirement

From 1 April:

  • Self-exemption for staff vaccinated overseas will end and from 1 April, staff vaccinated overseas will need to provide evidence that they have been vaccinated in line with the schedule in the regulations or may need to receive a top-up vaccine dose, as per UKHSA advice. 

The next Registered Manager Meeting will be on January the 19th, 10.00 – 11.30. Further details will be available here shortly. The meting will be focussed upon Recruitment & Retention.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/88301934620?pwd=MlBSVjgxTEJkWVBOcnkzNlJhaTVSQT09

Meeting ID: 883 0193 4620
Passcode: 987558
One tap mobile
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COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment

On 4 August 2021 the Department of Health and Social Care issued coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes: operational guidance. This states that from 11 November 2021 all care home workers, and anyone entering a care home, will need to be fully vaccinated unless they’re exempt under the regulations.

Staff visiting a care home will be expected to show evidence of vaccination and a negative lateral flow test (LFT) done within 72 hours prior to being allowed entry to the home. We’re advising staff to have their COVID domestic pass ready for checking when they arrive at a care home.

Find out how to get a digital NHS COVID Pass on your smartphone. You need the NHS App and by selecting ‘View COVID-19 records’ on the pass screen you can see your LFT results and vaccinations.

Health and social care providers

On 9 November 2021 the Department of Health and Social Care announced that all health and social care providers in England will be required to ensure workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they’re exempt, under plans announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary. This will apply across the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated health and social care sector. Examples of the types of activities CQC regulates includes:

  • personal care
  • accommodation for persons who require nursing or personal care
  • accommodation for persons who require treatment for substance misuse

Flu vaccination

At present it’s not proposed that flu vaccination requirements will be introduced as a regulation, however the government will keep this under review following this winter and ahead of winter 2022/23.

Guidance for employers on vaccination as a condition of deployment (VCOD) for healthcare workers was made available on 6 December 2021.

Timeline for making vaccination a condition of deployment for all health and social care staff

The requirements will come into force in spring 2022, subject to the passage of the regulations through parliament. There will be a 12-week grace period between the regulations being made and coming into force to allow those who have not yet been vaccinated to have both doses. Enforcement would begin from 1 April 2022, subject to parliamentary approval.

DateDetails
9 November 2021Government announcement
17 November 2021Planning and preparation
6 January 202212-week grace period commences
3 February 2022Last date for workers to get their first dose to be fully vaccinated by 1 April 2022
1 April 2022Regulations come into force

Vaccination booster

A booster dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine helps improve the protection you have from your first two doses of the vaccine. Although not currently a condition of deployment, having the booster helps give you longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Find out who can currently get a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.

There needs to be a gap of three full calendar months (91 days) between your second dose and when you can have your booster. You’ll be given a booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. These vaccines have already been given to millions of people in the UK.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you must wait 28 days before having your booster.

You can book to have a booster dose on the NHS website or by calling 119.Book to have a coronavirus vaccine on NHS.UK

Isolation for social care staff as a contact of someone with COVID-19

If a staff member is providing care to or is in close contact with an individual with SARS-CoV-2 infection and is wearing the correct PPE appropriately in accordance with the UK IPC guidance and how to work safely guidance, they will not be considered as a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation. This applies regardless of the vaccination status of the staff member or the circulating variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Staff members notified that they’re a contact of a COVID-19 case (while not wearing PPE) are not required to self-isolate if they’re fully vaccinated. This does not apply if they’re identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of infection with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, or if the confirmed case is a member of their household. In this situation staff members are required to take a PCR test and self-isolate in line with government guidelines.

COVID-19 management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings provides details on when staff should isolate. The majority of fully vaccinated health and social care staff will be able to continue in their usual role if they are a contact of someone with COVID-19. If the staff member works with patients or residents who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 (as determined by the organisation), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment during their self-isolation period.

Isolation of patients/residents in health and social care settings

Inpatients who are known to have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case while in hospital should be isolated or cohorted (grouped together) with other similarly exposed patients who do not have COVID-19 symptoms, until 14 days after last exposure if they remain in hospital. This applies to all patients, irrespective of whether they have been fully vaccinated or had a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Inpatients who have been exposed to a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 should ideally be isolated separately.

If inpatients are discharged to care settings, they should be advised to remain isolated from others for the remainder of their 14-day-exposure window. If they are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated refer to admission and care of residents in a care home during COVID-19 for further information.

If inpatients are discharged to their own home they and their household should be advised to follow the stay at home guidance.


North West London – Keeping Well

For those of you working in and across the NW London area, the Keeping Well website – https://www.keepingwellnwl.nhs.uk/ is a fantastic resource for you, your colleagues and your service users. More detail including items to download are at – https://lcasforumorg.wordpress.com/nw-tri-borough-rm-network/