Detailed guide: Overview of adult social care guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19)


This document provides information for adult social care providers about COVID-19 guidance and support. See the full list of adult social care guidance produced by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE).

This page will be updated to reflect new DHSC, NHS and PHE advice.

The guidance relates to England unless stated otherwise.

Help with infection prevention and control

Guidance for social care providers on how to prevent, control and protect care workers and those they care for from COVID-19 infection.

Infection control

Links to appropriate PPE resources:

See Securing PPE and related supplies below for information on how to access PPE.

Supporting staff members at higher risk from COVID-19

The adult social care risk reduction framework focuses specifically on how employers can support workers with factors that may make them more vulnerable to infection or adverse outcomes from COVID-19 to make decisions about their risks in the workplace. This should be used alongside relevant guidance, including PHE guidance on how to work safely in care homes, how to work safely in domiciliary care and DHSC guidance on health and wellbeing of the adult social care workforce.

Reducing contact between staff

To help reduce possible transmission among staff and residents consider:

  • limiting or cohorting staff to groups of patients or floors/wings (segregation of COVID-positive and COVID-negative patients)
  • holding team meetings and handovers remotely
  • staggering times of entry to collect equipment, including PPE
  • access to regular remote supervision for teams and individuals
  • remote, secure sharing of information relating to care between agencies (see NHSmail)

See guidance on reducing workforce movement between care homes and minimising risk for care workers for more advice.

Running a medicines re-use scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued good practice for managing medicines in care homes. A new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been designed to help providers manage medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find updated information in the new SOP.

Testing social care workers and people in care homes

See our guidance on how to get social care workers and people in care homes tested, below.

Financial support for infection control and prevention measures

On 15 May the government published details of an additional 600 million Infection Control Fund for Adult Social Care. This funding is to support adult social care providers in England reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and to support workforce resilience. The funding can also be used to support the wider adult social care sector, which includes home care. Adult social care providers should contact the local authority who administer the Infection Control Fund in the first instance if they want to access the fund.

What to do when you suspect an outbreak

Symptoms of COVID-19

The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

Any resident presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 should be promptly isolated (if not already) and tested. Care homes should be implementing social distancing measures and supporting individuals to follow the shielding guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable groups.

Guidance on caring for residents, depending on their COVID-19 status and particular needs has also been developed.

What is an outbreak?

An outbreak is defined as 2 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 or clinically suspected cases of COVID-19 among individuals associated with a specific setting, such as care homes, with onset dates within 14 days.

In line with the new definition, one confirmed case will be reported as an incident. If theres a single laboratory confirmed case, this would initiate further investigation and risk assessment.

What care homes and other social care settings must do during an outbreak

  1. Care home managers should contact their local health protection team (HPT) if they suspect an outbreak. (See Reporting an outbreak below). HPTs will arrange the first tests for all residents and staff. Care homes should seek advice from their local HPT if they have a single possible case of COVID-19.
  2. Staff should immediately instigate full infection control measures. See guidance on how to work safely in care homes. Advice is also provided on admission and care of residents in a care home.
  3. If the care home has a current outbreak and the steps for a new outbreak have been completed, they can continue regular weekly testing for staff. However, asymptomatic testing of residents is not needed unless recommended otherwise by the HPT or the Director of Public Health following a local risk assessment. If a resident develops symptoms in this time, the care home should contact the HPT to access rapid testing. Residents who have been exposed to a person with possible or confirmed COVID-19 should be isolated (or cohorted if not possible) with other similarly exposed residents until 14 days after last exposure.
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