Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): social care testing guidance

Published: 15 Feb 2021
Last updated: 14 Apr 2021 - see all updates

Guidance on coronavirus testing for the care at home sector.

15 Feb 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19): social care testing guidance

Guidance and materials to support testing of staff working in the following community based care services:

  • residential accommodation for children – PCR testing (from w/b 19 April)
  • homelessness services  - PCR testing (from w/b 19 April)
  • addiction services – PCR testing (from w/b 19 April)
  • social workers* –LFD testing (from w/b 12 April)
  • learning disability settings – LFD testing (from w/b 5 April)
  • women’s shelters – LFD testing
  • children’s personal assistants – LFD testing
  • care inspectors – LFD testing
  • care at home – LFD or PCR testing
  • sheltered housing and housing with multiple occupancies – LFD testing
  • adult day centres/ adult day care services – LFD testing
  • personal assistants (providing care and support to clients within social care ) – LFD testing 

*Front line social workers only who have not previously accessed testing. Please telephone the helpline for kit uplift.

This overview shows testing arrangements for care at home and care home settings only.

The roll-out of testing commenced on 18 January. Training materials to support rollout are published on this page.

Distribution of kits is currently underway. Please be advised that tests should only be used by those directly involved in social care.

The arrangements for each of the services are as follows:

Care at home services

Test method

LFD or PCR - Because of the diverse nature of care at home services some services will use LFD tests while others will use PCR.  LFD – twice weekly test with follow up PCR test if LFD is positive. PCR – once weekly.


Lateral flow (LFD) testing kits will be provided via the Health and Social Care Partnership or direct to the individual provider. Arrangements will differ depending on the mechanisms each Health and Social Care Partnership has put in place to roll out testing.

PCR testing kits will be ordered by the provider/employer through a Department of Health and Social Care Portal. Each service will be provided with a direct link to order kits. They then will distribute test kits to staff members. It is suggested that staff undertake the PCR test on the same day per week.

Personal assistants (all), social workers (all front line) and adult day centres/ day care services

Test method

LFD tests – twice weekly with follow up PCR test if LFD is positive.


Local PPE hubs. A twelve week supply will be provided in the first instance.

Learning disability settings, women’s shelters, care inspectors, sheltered housing, housing with multiple occupancies

Test method

LFD tests – twice weekly with follow up PCR test if LFD is positive.


Direct delivery to service. 

A four week supply will be provided in the first instance, with automated resupply by NHS National Services Scotland on a four-weekly cycle, until further notice, when a national portal will become the route to order test kits.

Services may be jointly registered and or provide a range of services out-with sheltered housing/housing with multiple occupancy. We have also approached the housing regulator separately to ensure we have pick up services not listed with the Care Inspectorate.

Guidance and recording of results

Please note: training and education materials must be read thoroughly/completed by staff prior to carrying out the first test.

For lateral flow testing - test results whether positive or negative should be recorded using the Covid Testing and Registration Portal online.

For those staff undertaking PCR, kits must be sent to the laboratory for testing via a priority post box. You will be notified of the result.


A free helpline has gone live to provide advice for LFD and PCR testing. 

Tel: 0800 008 6587 available 09:00 to 17:00 every day

Please note that these materials will be updated regularly so please continue to check this website for up to date information and guidance. 

Sector letters and updates


PCR guidance

49 page PDF
2.5 MB

LFD guidance - 18 March 2021

19 page PDF
668.9 kB

Adult social testing FAQs

13 page PDF
723.9 kB


Essential training 

Lateral flow devices

A number of resources  on using a lateral flow device are available at the NHS Education for Scotland website (login required). This includes slides, a video and posters.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test

Guidance on using a PCR test is also available on the NHS learning resources website

First published: 15 Feb 2021 Last updated: 14 Apr 2021 -