Liverpool’s care home visiting pilot – frequently asked questions

The Army trains care home staff to administer lateral flow tests at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool

Yesterday, a pilot programme was launched that will pave the way for more meaningful indoor visits in care homes.

Eleven homes are part of the Liverpool City Council-led programme that will see lateral flow tests (LFTs) being used to enable visits to take place without protective screens.

Can I go to any test centre in the city to get my first test?

No. As part of the pilot we ask that everyone goes to the test centre at Hunter Street. This is at the rear of Liverpool Central Library and the centre can be accessed from Cuerden Street.

Can I just drop in and get my test like at the community-testing centres?

No. You will need to pre-book an appointment at Hunter Street online or you can call 0845 111 0692. The first test needs to be within 24 hours of the visiting slot you have booked with the care home.

I don’t have an email address or a mobile phone. Can I still take a test?

Yes. You can choose to have your results shared with you via your landline and shared directly with the care home.

When do I get my first result?

The LFT will be within an hour, the PCR within 24 hours.

I have heard that PCR test results take longer than 24 hours. If mine doesn’t arrive is my visit cancelled?

No. Provided your first LFT is negative you can still go to the care home for your second LFT and – hopefully – your visit. However, we are using Hunter Street as it deals with Pillar 1 testing (for health and care workers and hospital patients) which means that results are returned quicker than from community test sites.

I have already had a negative test as part of the wider test pilot do I still need to go to Hunter Street?

Yes. We are asking everyone to do two LFTs and a PCR before their visit. You could have picked up the virus between the test you have already had and your visit but not have symptoms. We understand this may feel inconvenient but it is all about keeping your loved one and also care home staff as safe as we possibly can.

Why do I need to take three tests?

The additional PCR test we are asking people to take when they have taken their first LFT is part of quality assurance in the pilot. This was also part of the initial testing in the wider community-testing pilot when it started on 6 November.

There are several members of my family who want to visit.

At the moment, only one person can visit during each visiting slot. This is to ensure we keep your loved one as safe as possible and to minimise pressure on care homes as they get used to the testing and visiting process.

How often will I be able to visit?

Visiting slots are 90 minutes (30 minutes for testing, 30 minutes for the visit, 30 minutes for cleaning between visits) and will take place in the daytime. How frequently you can visit will depend on how many residents there are in each home and the number of their family members who wish to visit.

Can I have physical contact with my family member?

In the Liverpool pilot, you can hold hands whilst the visitor is wearing gloves but hugging is not allowed.

I have seen pictures of people hugging care home residents in the media

Those care homes are part of the English national pilot. The Liverpool City Council pilot visiting process has been developed out of the city’s wider community-testing programme. Some homes in Liverpool will also be part of the national pilot and these are likely to be the larger homes in the city.

Who has made decisions about the Liverpool pilot?

The visiting process has been developed by Public Health Liverpool, Liverpool City Council’s adult social care team and colleagues involved in the wider community-testing pilot including the University of Liverpool.

Why is this only happening in 11 care homes?

This is a pilot programme. There are over 90 homes in the city and rolling it out to all of them at the same time would have been very complicated, particularly around testing capacity. Our pilot will last two weeks and it will then be evaluated. Our aim is to roll it out more widely as soon as we can as we know how important this is to families.

My family member is living in a care home that isn’t in the pilot and I want to visit indoors

The national guidance for England says that indoor visits are now allowed in care homes but there must be protective screens or pods. Please speak directly to the home so that they can explain what safeguards they have in place and when you can visit.