Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Open with Care: advice on practicalities

Published: 15 Jul 2021

Supplementary information including answers to practical questions and concerns resulting from Open with Care: supporting meaningful contact and activities in and away from care homes.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Open with Care: advice on practicalities
Visitor testing

Visitor testing

Who should be tested

All people visiting indoors should be offered a lateral flow device (LFD) test. It is not mandatory for visitors to take the test but it is strongly encouraged. If a visitor refuses to undertake a test, it may be helpful to discuss the reasons why. As per Open with Care, essential visitors, some of whom may need to visit in urgent circumstances, do not need to take a test beforehand, although some visitors may want to do so. 

The care home may ask screening questions. These questions include:

  • if the visitor has recently felt unwell
  • if the visitor has been in contact with someone in the past 14 days who has or is suspected to have COVID-19
  • if they have been told to self-isolate

There is generally no need to take the temperature of visitors.

Updated advice on testing was issued to the sector on 13 July and will be available on the adult care home visitor testing guidance page from 16 July. Care homes will have the discretion of allowing visitors to test at home before they come to the care home through community testing routes. As care homes open up to more visitors, this may reduce the burden of testing on the care home. Visitor testing at home is not a mandatory requirement; decisions should take into account the circumstances of the care home and visitors. Not all visitors will be comfortable or able to test themselves, so care homes may wish to continue to support visitor testing at the care home for some or all of their visitors.

If care homes are happy for the visitor to test in their own home, they will need access to a device (such as a smartphone or tablet) to register their result online at the Covid testing portal.  here are three ways of visitors accessing testing kits. Read information on how to do this.

Visitors may ring 119 or order online for home delivery or tests can be collected from the COVID-19 testing centres or picked up from local pharmacies. The latter is a new service which commenced on 9 May and has over 1000 pharmacies taking part.

The test should take place on the same day as the visit to the home. Care homes may wish to ask for proof of a negative test, confirming date of test, to be shown prior to the visit, such as an email or text from NHS Test and Protect.

If visitors do not have access to a smartphone/ tablet, or are not able to produce a negative test, care homes may wish to ask them to take the test at the care home. 

Please note that the instructions in the LFD test kits supplied by the community route recommend recording results on the UK Government Department of Health and Social Care portal. These instructions will be updated in time to reflect reporting on the Scottish Portal. In the meantime please advise visitors to use the UK Government website.  

Visitor consent for LFD testing

For those testing at the care home, visitors should sign a consent form. This only needs to be done once – care homes can reconfirm consent verbally for future LFD tests at further visits (as long as the care home continues to hold the visitors completed consent form). A template visitor testing letter, privacy notice and consent form is available on our website alongside further information on management of visitor testing.