Care home bosses welcome proposed roll-out of rapid covid tests

Barry Norman Iceni House

A resident and family member at Iceni House, a care home in Swaffham which has launched a rapid coronavirus testing pilot to reunite families. - Credit: Iceni House

Care homes in Norfolk and Waveney have welcomed a government bid to roll out rapid coronavirus testing kits which would allow more visitors see their loved ones in the run up to Christmas.

An email has been sent this week from Norfolk County Council officials to care home bosses stating that lateral flow test kits, which can provide a result in approximately half an hour, will be provided in two waves through December.

An allocation of the kits would enable all visitors be tested each time they visit a resident - and it is expected that family members will be allowed hug and hold hands.

MORE: 'He cried, I cried' - Loved ones reunited through care home's pilot test scheme

Joseph Greiner, manager of Burgh House, a residential care home near Great Yarmouth, expressed cautious welcome for the plan.

Joseph Greiner, manager of Burgh House care home near Great Yarmouth.

Joseph Greiner, manager of Burgh House care home near Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Greiner

He said: "There is nothing we want more than for families to be back inside the walls of the care home, because they are such an important part of the care experience, but I am a little bit sceptical about the testing plans.

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"We need a bit more guidance from the government on how they expect things to be managed. It does need to be very clear guidance," he added.

Burgh House Care Home has been rated as 'good' in all five key areas and overall Picture: Joseph Gre

Burgh House, a residential care home outside Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Joseph Greiner

"Of course we want the families to come to the home and be involved, no two ways about it, but it's just about managing the situation as best as we possibly can, for the benefit of the residents, who we have a duty of care to, and families and staff.

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"It must be done in the safest way possible," Mr Greiner said.

Burgh House care home residents enjoying their pizza party earlier this month. Photo: Francesca Corn

Burgh House care home residents enjoying their pizza party earlier this month. Photo: Francesca Cornish - Credit: Archant

Ewa Kujawa, manager of Eversley care home in Great Yarmouth, said: “This will be the next step to make sure everybody is safe. It will be something positive, if we have additional testing."

Debbie McGovern, operations director at Kingsley health care, said: “It’s brilliant news. I don’t think the testing procedure will cause the care homes any problems."

Kingsley operations director Debbie McGovern.

Debbie McGovern, operations manager at Kingsley healthcare. Photo: Kingsley Healthcare. - Credit: Archant

Kingsley operates 31 homes, 20 of them in East Anglia, with 1,200 residents and 1,800 staff. They include centres in Norwich, Thetford, Great Yarmouth, Downham Market, Wroxham, Diss, Bungay and Lowestoft.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Ms McGovern said.

Steve and Lorraine Dorrington who run care homes in Norfolk

Lorraine and Steve Dorrington, who run care homes in Dereham, Wells and Watton. - Credit: Ian Burt

Steve Dorrington, who runs family-operated care homes in Dereham, Wells and Watton, said:"I'm in favour of it. I'd be very reluctant to stop people visiting. I welcome it with open arms. The sooner the better."

MORE: ‘I want to see my dad’: Daughter of 95-year-old in care scheme makes plea for regular testing

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