A Scottish care home group is to introduce its own rapid response Covid test programme for residents and staff using technology that delivers results within minutes.
Parklands Care Homes, which operates eight care homes in Moray and Highland, has invested over £100,000 on new rapid test technology developed by medical equipment manufacturer LumiraDX.
The tests can provide results within 12 minutes, enabling care staff to quickly implement quarantine procedures in the event of a positive result.
The test uses a nasal swab specimen from individuals showing symptoms of Covid, which are then analysed using a portable machine.
Parklands will purchase five mobile test units which can be quickly deployed at any of its care homes. Specially trained nurses and care managers will carry out and process the tests.
Initially, 1200 test kits will be ordered with more expected in January and March next year.
The new system will complement existing NHS Scotland test procedures, which will continue as normal. In-house testing will only be carried out as and when required – for example, where a resident or staff member is showing symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and where a rapid result would enable quarantine procedures to be implemented at an earlier stage.
Parklands Care Homes Managing Director Ron Taylor said:
“This technology will give us results within minutes, rather than hours or days. That gives us a huge advantage in terms of our ability to respond to any potential positive results, should they occur. Of course, it is not a substitute for robust infection prevention and control procedures. Keeping the virus at bay remains our primary objective at all times. However, the ability to test symptomatic residents or staff in real time is a significant step forward and will give peace of mind to residents, families and our hard working staff.
“Our investment will also help alleviate some of the pressure on our NHS Scotland colleagues. Our existing test arrangements with NHS Scotland, which sees staff tested weekly, will continue as normal. However, by enabling us to carry out our own rapid tests, we can ease some of the pressure on the NHS and, more importantly, implement quarantine procedures much more rapidly.”
He added: “This is a significant investment by Parklands but it is one that we felt was absolutely necessary to safeguard our residents and staff. In almost 30 years working in the care sector, I cannot think of a more challenging time for the sector. Equally, I have never been more proud of the team at Parklands who continue to work round the clock to protect our residents.”
The new rapid test system should be in place in early November.