A new Sheffield covid-19 testing service aims to reduce the spread of the virus in care and residential homes by testing staff and residents.
The covid-19 testing service for health, social care and voluntary sector staff, and members of their households, was set up in April by NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Primary Care Sheffield (PCS) and Sheffield City Council.
As well as testing staff and residents in care homes who have symptoms of covid-19, the service is now testing staff in homes that don’t have an outbreak of covid. People can have covid-19 without showing symptoms and therefore spread it to others. By identifying who is infectious before people become symptomatic means staff can isolate early and potentially minimise the risk of any further infection and outbreaks in homes, protecting these most vulnerable people.
The service complements the national testing service for care homes by ensuring when residents have symptoms the tests are completed and results confirmed quickly to patients and staff protected.
Dr Andy Hilton, Chief Executive at Primary Care Sheffield, said: “Testing staff without symptoms is helping us to gather evidence on the number of infections in care home staff. Early detection can help with reducing the spread of infection.
“A team of nurses from the CCG and PCS are providing support and training to staff within care and nursing homes to help them test residents and their staff. We hope that by getting staff and residents tested quickly, the spread of the virus through homes can be reduced and keep these very vulnerable people as safe as possible.”
Donna Pierpoint, Manager at Broomgrove Nursing Home in Sheffield, said: “Eleven of our staff were tested locally using the Sheffield service. We were really impressed from start to finish. The online booking form was extremely easy to use, the service was highly efficient and the nurses were brilliant. Local testing was very convenient for my staff and receiving their results – all negative – so quickly gave them, their families and our residents reassurance, relief and peace of mind.
“I am delighted with the process and glad my staff were tested so promptly, meaning they were able to continue to provide much-needed care for our residents.”
As well as providing testing to care homes, the Sheffield service also offers testing to primary care health staff, social care staff and voluntary sector staff who have symptoms, as well as members of their households who have symptoms.
Dr Charles Heatley, GP and Clinical Director at NHS Sheffield CCG, said: “We have the capacity to test up to 100 people a day in the drive through centres and have already tested over 1500 key health and care workers across Sheffield since the service started.
“We have three testing centres across the city and offer appointments as early as the day after a referral. The service is provided by nurses and health care assistants who offer help and support for people taking the test in a safe environment. Results are available within 24 – 48 hours, and are recorded on medical notes. Results can also be shared directly with the patient’s employer, so they can get back to work quickly if they don’t have covid-19.
“We’re really proud of the service, it’s quick, easy and convenient and provides peace of mind to key health and care workers and care home residents who are experiencing symptoms. We will also test household members of staff who have symptoms meaning that the health or care worker can get back to work and won’t have to self-isolate for 14 days if their household member’s test is negative.”
If you or a member of your household work in the health, social care or voluntary sectors, mentioned above, in Sheffield and you are experiencing covid-19 symptoms, find out more and self-refer online at https://bit.ly/sheffieldtest.