hA new 85-minute coronavirus test could soon allow care home visitors to cuddle their relatives, it has been reported.
Plans are under way to introduce a pilot testing scheme across UK care homes which could prove to be a game changer for residents and their families.
This week, the scheme - called Condor - will place testing machines in a number of care homes where they will test people for Covid-19 through a saliva sample, The Sunday Telegraph reports.
The test will return results in just 85 minutes, the machine's makers say.
At the moment, the Government is urging care providers to restrict movement of people around care homes in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.
But if the new test is introduced, this could change the way care home visits work.
According to the Telegraph, the Department of Health and Social Care has already “declared an interest” in the pilot scheme, which could result in it being rolled out officially across all care homes in the UK.
Under the scheme, 28 care homes will take part in the test, with the first ones receiving the machines this week.
Wren Hall, a specialist dementia care nursing home based in Nottingham, is among the providers that will receive the tests this week.
Managing director Anita Astle MBE said the home currently cares for 54 residents, after 21 died of coronavirus during the height of the pandemic.
She said the care home experienced issues caused by inadequate PPE and testing during the lockdown period.
However, she added: "This machine would make all the difference. It would enable visiting because you could test relatives.”
She said that relatives would not only be able to visit care home residents, but they could also touch - hugging and cuddling each other - something that has been off limits for months.
The director added: "We’ve found that for many people, facilitating visits in the garden or through a barrier are actually not helpful because it causes the person more distress and we don’t want to do that.”
Adam Gordon, professor of the care of older people at the University of Nottingham, who is leading the care home component of the Condor project, said: “Our plan is to do a baseline test with the four care homes, leave the technology with them for one month, and then evaluate the results.”
It comes as care home chiefs pleaded yesterday night to be saved from a second catastrophe as Covid infection rates escalate.
More than 15,000 residents died in the first coronavirus wave and bosses fear a devastating repeat unless they get the weekly tests for staff that Boris Johnson ’s ministers promised.
Under the Government’s plans, staff should be tested weekly and residents monthly.
Mark Adams, whose care homes lost 49 residents to Covid-19, said: “The Government had a chance to fix this but I can’t imagine how they could have messed it up more.”
Leaders across the care industry issued a stark warning that a deadly second wave of Covid will sweep through homes unless the Government acts on its testing pledges.
New analysis showed that more than 400 deaths involving Covid-19 occurred each day in UK care homes at the height of the coronavirus outbreak.
There were more than 3,000 care home deaths involving coronavirus in one week in mid-April, according to the first UK-wide review of daily deaths by the PA news agency.
Deaths rose five-fold between the start of the month and the care home peak on April 17, when nearly 500 residents died.
At this time, testing for all staff and residents - regardless of symptoms - was not available in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while providers had not yet been advised to restrict staff movements between homes.