Updated: Dec 4, 2020

It’s so good to hear that the government will be supplying care homes with lateral flow rapid antigen tests to allow safer visiting.

Months of worry about spreading infection has meant that most visits have been banned, leaving elderly residents increasingly lonely and confused by their inability to see their family and friends. It’s been hard, too, for the staff caring for them who have seen the effect that it is having and are struggling to contain the emotional and physical health consequences of this enforced isolation. But now, the vaccine is imminent, and the lateral flow tests can allow safer visiting in the meantime.

But, many care homes are concerned that the tests won’t be available as quickly as they’d like. And are worried about how to implement safer visiting. And, just a day or two ago, a care home in Sheffield raised concerns about the accuracy of lateral flow tests. But they mis-interpreted the data. Yes, lateral flow tests are less sensitive than the gold-standard, lab-based PCR tests at picking up very low levels of virus. But, as the recent government experience in Liverpool and various other studies have confirmed, they are able to detect over 95% of individuals with high viral loads, where transmission of infection is much more likely to occur.

A positive lateral flow test pretty much means you have Covid and certainly shouldn’t be visiting vulnerable people…or anyone, for that matter. Self-isolation, and informing test and trace is the order of the day.

In contrast, a negative lateral flow test doesn’t mean you can just throw caution to the wind, along with your mask. Because around 4 in 100 may be carrying Covid, despite a negative test. So, standard safety measures should still apply – for your own protection as well as others around you. But it does provide added reassurance. Nothing is without risk – but lateral flow tests to screen care home visitors will considerably reduce the chance of introducing infection…and this risk is likely to be far outweighed by the mental health benefits of allowing residents to connect with family and friends again.

Breathe Assured is supporting this valuable government initiative by providing low-price, credible lateral flow tests and medically-led protocols for care-home visitor testing. For more information on this and other related services and prices please see our brochure and get in touch to chat further.


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