National live-in care provider Consultus Care and Nursing has announced the roll out of a new COVID-19 testing scheme to help protect its clients and staff.
The provider says it plans to “plug the coronavirus testing gap” left by the UK government, which has “chosen to ignore” a large part of the care sector.
Currently, asymptomatic British carers who specialise in the growing market for 24/7 live care in clients’ own homes, as well as carers with an overseas address, are unable to access government rolling testing programmes.
In response, Consultus Care and Nursing has initiated its own PCR testing scheme using saliva samples.
The news comes as home care staff and their employees demand to be included in the government’s rolling testing programme for care homes.
Peter Seldon (pictured), CEO of Consultus Care and Nursing, said: “It’s very disappointing that the UK Government has chosen to ignore a significant part of the care sector by leaving a wide gap in their testing environment. I have been in touch with the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England on this issue and have found sympathy, but not the asymptomatic testing we seek as care homes continue to be prioritised following the high rates of infection in some of them stemming from the many people discharged in to them from hospitals without being tested earlier in this crisis.”
Preliminary studies have shown that PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing through saliva samples can be as sensitive as swabs in lab validation and even more sensitive for SARS-CoV-2 detection in practice.
Consultus Care said the tests are also less invasive and easier to self-administer correctly, helping to ensure improved results accuracy.
This follows findings from virologists, such as Professor Lawrence Young from Warwick University, who say around a third of the current PCR swabs test taken in the UK may be yielding false negatives as they have not been administered correctly.
Provided by Everything Genetic, the PCR saliva test Consultus is using is CE-marked, indicating conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area.
Results are performed in an ISO 15189 UK laboratory, which is approved to share information with Public Health England as part of the UK’s Test and Trace scheme.
Consultus Care and Nursing said it is able to safely distribute the PCR saliva tests to all carers who do not qualify for access to government testing.
No specialist equipment or health care professional is required to manage the test, allowing the user to post the test directly back to Everything Genetic’s laboratory for analysis.
The results are available to access through Everything Genetic’s online portal within one to two days and emailed to Consultus Care and Nursing’s head office.
In addition to the PCR saliva coronavirus test, Consultus Care and Nursing is also deploying the COVID-19 instant antibody test provided by Everything Genetic as a way of screening carers and continuing to safeguard clients.
This test detects both the IgM antibody, which usually manifests soon after infection, and the IgG antibody, which usually manifests 10 to 14 days after infection.
Using a small finger prick blood sample, results appear within 10 minutes.
Seldon said: “It is our duty to ensure that all of our carers and clients continue to remain safe. We have a zero rate of cross infection of COVID-19 between our carers and our clients to date, and we’re determined to ensure this record is maintained as we look to bring carers out of their current placements, some of whom have been isolating with clients since March, and deploy other carers into new placements.
“With this additional step of deploying our own underwriting testing programme, we, our clients and our carers can be confident that every precaution has been taken to keep everyone safe during these uncertain times.”