Public Health England has revealed a low prevalence of COVID-19 infections among domiciliary care workers, highlighting home care as a safer alternative to care homes during the pandemic.
The pilot study provides the first estimate of infection rates among home care staff in England and will inform testing strategies and measures to reduce risk of transmission going forward.
It found that the prevalence of COVID-19 was 0.1% last month, which is in line with infection rates among the general population (0.09%), according to analysis published by the Office of National Statistics on June 25.
The data gives evidence to suggest that care at home may have provided a safer alternative to care homes during the crisis.
Tweeting about the study, Dr Jane Townson, CEO of United Kingdom Homecare Association, said: “This evidence from Public Health England on prevalence of COVID-19 among domiciliary care workers in line with reports from UKHCA members throughout the pandemic – generally low numbers of cases. Homecare has proved itself relatively safe and our amazing workforce has been a lifeline to many.”
PHE analysis states that infection rates among domiciliary care staff are much lower than the higher prevalence as observed in studies of front line healthcare workers and care home staff.
A study of care home workers in mid-April 2020 showed a prevalence of COVID-19 of 20.4%.
However, PHE noted that this study took place at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and at an earlier point than the home care study.
“Findings of this study are therefore not directly comparable to the care home and healthcare worker studies and a different result may have arisen at the peak of the pandemic,” it said.
The latest study was conducted on 2,015 swabs sent to PHE by care providers across five regions in England last month.
It also found that the median percentage of domiciliary care staff self-isolating last month was 2%.