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Care home to finally get Covid-19 tests after year of lobbying

Following almost a year of lobbying, a Diss care home will finally be able to offer regular coronavirus tests to its residents – for the first time since the pandemic began.

This week, Weaver’s Court will roll-out a coronavirus testing regime, just days after figures revealed that Norfolk’s weekly Covid deaths in care homes were amongst the worst in the country.

Until now, Weaver’s Court has not been able to offer regular testing as it is classed as a housing with care scheme (HWC), meaning that residents are offered a greater degree of freedom than they typically would be at a nursing or traditional care home.

Residents at Weaver's Court in Diss will finally get regular coronavirus testing.	Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.
Residents at Weaver's Court in Diss will finally get regular coronavirus testing. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.

Following an update to government policy, HWC schemes are now being offered regular PCR swab tests.

Tenants at the care home in Mount Street will be tested once every 28 days and staff will be tested weekly.

Martin Rix, chief operating officer for NorseCare, which runs Weaver’s Court, said he was pleased to be able to offer necessary protections to his residents and staff.

“We are delighted that Covid-19 testing is finally beginning to be offered in housing with care schemes and that Weaver’s Court has this week been able to run its first test for all of its tenants,” he said.

Norse Care had been lobbying the Government to introduce a testing regime into HWC schemes since the beginning of the pandemic.

Mr Rix described the decision as “a positive step forward”, albeit one that was long overdue.

“Testing is important in helping to identify people who might be carrying coronavirus but not showing symptoms,” he said.

“As a care provider, we see first-hand the impact of this pandemic upon some of the most vulnerable people in our homes and communities.

“For many months, we have advocated – on behalf of the tenants we support – that this testing should be offered to them, too, in line with what has been set up in residential care homes.

“We have now started to receive tests in our HWC schemes, and this is certainly a positive step forwards.”

Residents at Weaver’s Court are yet to receive their coronavirus vaccine, making the new testing measures even more vital.

Mr Rix added: “We’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the vaccine in each and every one of the homes and schemes we support.

“All of our care settings have worked hard to ensure that they are completely ready when their turn comes.

“In the meantime, staff are committed to doing everything they can to keep those we care for as safe as possible.”

Data from the Care Quality Commission shows that coronavirus had claimed the lives of 68 care home residents in Norfolk in the week ending January 22, the most since the start of the pandemic, and the sixth-most in the whole of England.

Furthermore, since the beginning of December, around half of Norfolk care homes have reported outbreaks, meaning that two or more residents or staff have caught the virus.

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