ARC England calls for rapid Lateral Flow Device testing to be implemented across all care and support staff

ARC England calls for rapid Lateral Flow Device testing to be implemented across all care and support staff

Our members support adults with learning disabilities, autism or both who live in residential care and supported environments, and we are concerned that they are not being fully protected.

Care home staff and residents are able to test twice a week using the lateral flow device (LFD) tests, but many learning disabilities providers are still unable to access this type of testing, putting the people they support at increased likelihood of contracting Covid-19.

The recent news about 15 million people receiving their first vaccine is heartening but ARC England have been saying for some time now that the JCVI prioritisation model does not reflect the six times greater mortality rates that people with a learning disability can face if they contract the virus.

Alongside that, not all frontline staff have been vaccinated and we know rapid LFD testing in care homes across the country is picking up people who have the virus but are asymptomatic, therefore saving lives.

The people our members are supporting are vulnerable not only because of their personal care requirements, but because many do not understand or are unable to comply with infection control and social distancing rules that are there to keep them safe.

Some learning disabilities and autism supported environments are staffed 24 hours a day. They look no different to a care home where people share communal areas and in which some people are elderly and have chronic health conditions.

Providers have told us that some supported living environments can pose a greater risk than residential homes because they can be smaller, so one-way systems and separate rooms for staff to put on and take off PPE are simply not possible.

Furthermore, some members’ local Public Health teams agree with us that rapid testing is essential in their services.

That is why ARC England is calling on the government to include all care and support staff in rapid flow testing, not just the care home workforce.  

Clive Parry

ARC England Director