Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) and NHS staff have teamed up to help care homes in the county with testing residents and staff for Covid-19.
The Accelerated Care Home Provision Outreach Service has been set up to improve access to Covid-19 testing and deliver local support to care homes where the need is greatest.
Sarah Scott, Director of Public Health for Gloucestershire and Chair of Gloucestershire’s Strategic Coordinating Group, said: “Staff in care homes across the county are, without doubt, going the extra mile to support and protect their residents, under extremely challenging circumstances.
“By bringing together the skills, expertise and unwavering willingness to do what is needed from across a range of local organisation we are and will continue to do all that we can to support their efforts. This outreach service is another fantastic example.”
Tracey King, Operational Lead for the Coronavirus Response Testing Team with Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is very much a partnership initiative to ensure that our county care homes and their residents have quick and easy access to Covid-19 testing, to help identify any outbreaks and ensure the correct levels of support are provided.
“We’ve been testing for Covid-19 both in the community and amongst our own staff and staff from other health and care providers for the past few months, so using our experience and the enthusiasm and commitment of the fire service to ensure some of our more vulnerable community members are tested is a really positive step.”
Dr Andy Seymour, Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s really important that we protect residents in care homes as much as we can as they can be amongst the most vulnerable people in our communities. Testing both residents and staff for Covid-19 is critical to ensuring that they receive the best and most appropriate care to meet their needs.
“This initiative, working with our local Fire and Rescue Service, is a great example of how partners in Gloucestershire are working together to support our residents and respond to the pandemic which has affected every part of our health and care system.”
Co-ordinated by Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust and GFRS, the project identifies care homes and individuals with the highest risk of Covid-19 infection, or where Covid-19 is suspected, and provides support to prevent and control onward infection.
The Gloucestershire Health and Care (GHC) Testing Service and GFRS receive daily information from the County Council and CCG, identifying the care homes in need of Covid-19 testing support. The firefighters are then despatched to deliver swabbing kits to those care homes, advise and support the care home staff on how to carry out swabbing, and later collect and return the swabs to the laboratory in Gloucester for testing.
The crew members will not conduct swab tests themselves, but have received training from the GHC testing team to enable them to support care home staff.
The Accelerated Care Home Provision Outreach Service is in addition to existing testing services offered locally and via the national Government portal.
Care homes are also be able to arrange their own testing via https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-care-home