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Care workers and visitors urged to keep testing to protect vulnerable residents in St Helens

Social care staff and others working with elderly or vulnerable residents in St Helens Borough are being reminded to keep testing regularly for Covid-19 to help protect them.

Covid update

Article date: 15 March 2022

Although national legal requirements to isolate have now been removed, the national guidance for care home staff and social care workers to test remains the same; all staff should conduct daily rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs) on the days they are working before their shift begins.

Care home providers are being encouraged to also support staff to follow existing infection control guidance when working in care homes or going about their daily lives and to ensure good ventilation and the use of cleaning/sanitation points in the home.

Covid-19 infection rates continue to remain high, putting older and vulnerable residents particularly at risk. Currently Covid-19 infections in people aged over 60 in the borough are one of the highest in the region with a 37 per cent increase in cases in just one week.

The number of Covid-19 cases are rising nationally and locally, with some of the biggest rises in older age groups. At the end of February, there were around 50 cases a day in St Helens Borough and most recently (up to 9 March) cases have risen to over 100 cases a day.

All staff and visitors should wear a face mask when visiting care homes, particularly when moving through the care home and remember to continue to carry out those simple behaviours to reduce spreading infection. These actions such as good hand washing should continue even if they are wearing personal protective equipment, have been vaccinated or had a negative test.

Residents planning to visit elderly or vulnerable family members or friends are also being encouraged to do a negative lateral flow test before setting off and to ensure rooms are ventilated while they are there. Visitors should also comply with safe visiting practices at the care home, which should be communicated to them to help them plan for their visit.

These practices including testing, face coverings, good hand hygiene and any other arrangements in agreement with the care home will help to ensure that the correct infection control measures are in place to keep loved ones safe.

Visitors who feel unwell or have Covid-19 symptoms are advised not to visit care homes for at least 5 days until they feel better even if they have tested negative for Covid-19 and are fully vaccinated and have received their booster. Those visitors who are contacts of people who have test positive should also not be visiting the care home for 10 days unless necessary.

Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: "Despite infection rates falling for a number of weeks in the borough, we are now starting to see cases rising again particularly in older and more vulnerable residents so it is really important we do now take extra steps to protect them and keep testing.

"For staff working in care homes or visiting older or vulnerable residents, taking that time to test before setting off for work is crucial and will give that extra protection for those you are working with. Also if you are planning to visit family relatives who are vulnerable please do take the time to test beforehand, it can make a big difference."

Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: "With infection rates in the borough starting to rise again we must take action to protect our elderly and vulnerable residents as there are already signs that cases are increasing significantly in this group.

"One in three people with Covid-19 don't have symptoms so if you are either working or visiting elderly or vulnerable relatives you could easily pass the infection onto them without even knowing it.

"Please do take that time to test if you can and whilst in the environment with them please take extra precautions such as washing your hands regularly and ensuring rooms are well ventilated."

You can order Covid-19 test kits or pick test kits up from a local pharmacy.