Testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection in care home residents and staff in English care homes: A service evaluation

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Abstract

Context: COVID-19 is especially dangerous to older adults living in residential care.
Objective: To evaluate the usefulness of a nurse-led Enhanced Care Home Team (ECHT) SARS-CoV-2 testing strategy to identify resident cases early, identify typical illness presentation residents, and correctly attribute cause of death in care home settings in Norfolk, UK.
Method: Residents and staff received nose and throat swab tests (7 April to 29 June 2020). Resident test results were linked with symptoms on days 0-14 after test and mortality to 13 July 2020. The data collected were used to evaluate service performance.
Findings: Residents (n=521) and staff (estimated n=340) in 44 care homes were tested in the ECHT service. SARS-CoV-2 positivity was identified in 103 residents in 14 homes and 49 staff in seven homes. Of 103 SARS-CoV-2+ residents, just 37 had what were understood to be typical COVID-19 symptom(s). Among 51 residents without symptoms when initially tested, 13 (25%) developed symptoms within 14 days. Many SARS-CoV-2+ residents lacked typical symptoms but presented rather as ‘generally unwell’ (n=16). Of 39 resident deaths during the monitoring period, 20 (51%) were initially attributed to SARS-CoV-2, all of whom tested SARS-CoV-2+. One deceased person not initially attributed to SARS-CoV-2 tested positive through a different monitoring programme. 9% of all staff tests were positive.
Implications: A locally designed and integrated joint nursing and social care team approach successfully identified asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic SARS-CoV-2+ residents and staff. Being ‘generally unwell’ was common amongst symptomatic residents and indicated SARS-CoV-2 infection in older people in the absence of more ‘typical’ symptoms. The service supported correct attribution of cause of death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Long-Term Care
Volume2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Care Homes
  • Nursing
  • Public health
  • Service Evaluation
  • Social Care

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