Covid-19 Antibody Testing for Adult Social Care Staff

Antibody testing for Adult Social Care Staff

An at-home antibody testing service has now launched, and it is now available to all paid staff in the adult social care sector in England.

We have been sent this information from the Department of Health and Social Care, who have requested that we share this information with all of our staff. 

What is an antibody test?

Antibody tests are used to detect antibodies to the COVID-19 virus to see if you have previously had the virus. Our understanding of the body’s immune response to the virus is limited, and we do not currently know how long an antibody response lasts, whether you can be re-infected, nor whether having antibodies means you cannot transmit the virus to others. The test does not tell you if you currently have the virus.

What are antibody tests used for?

This at-home antibody testing service is supporting surveillance studies that are helping us to understand COVID-19 and how it has spread in the adult social care sector. By participating and taking a test you will be contributing to this effort.

An antibody test result can only tell you whether or not you have had the virus in the past and developed antibodies. It does not tell you if you currently have the virus.

Therefore, regardless of the result of an antibody test, you must continue to comply with government guidelines, including wearing PPE and social distancing.

Information about working safely in domiciliary care and PPE guidance can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-how-to-work-safely-in-domiciliary-care

Who can register for an antibody test?

At-home antibody testing is now available to all paid staff in the adult care sector in England, including domiciliary care workers delivering home care, working in extra care and supported living, and live in carers.

Antibody testing has been available to social care staff in some areas in England through the NHS. This at-home antibody test provides a new route to access an antibody test, giving greater flexibility and choice. You should only take one version of the test. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have received a positive swab test, you should wait 3 weeks before registering for an antibody test.

How do these tests differ from regular COVID-19 swab tests?

Antibody tests are different to COVID-19 swab tests. Swab tests tell someone if they currently have COVID-19, whereas antibody tests tell someone if they have previously had COVID-19 and have developed antibodies. They do not tell you if you currently have the virus.

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should follow government guidelines and order a COVID-19 swab test for free here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/get-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/

How do these tests differ from the flu vaccination?

Antibody tests are different to the flu jab, and you can take both. The flu jab is a safe vaccination offered every year for free on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
It is important to have a flu jab because it helps to protect the vulnerable people you work with. Also, research shows that if you catch COVID-19 and flu at this same time, you’re more likely to be seriously ill.

Whether you have had COVID-19 or not, it is safe to have the flu jab. Information about the flu jab and how to get it can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/

Taking the test

To sign up for an at-home antibody test, you will need to register online here: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-antibody-test

After registering, you will receive a text message containing a code which will allow you to sign up for a test. This may take a few weeks. All the equipment needed for the test, along with instructions and a link to a video guide, will be provided in the kit sent to your home.

Results of the test will be communicated to you via text.

Guidance and a video explaining how to take the antibody finger-prick test can be found here:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-antibody-home-test-kit-taking-a-blood-sample

Wellbeing support

As frontline care workers, we recognise the mental and physical challenges that COVID-19 may have placed on you. It is important that you access support if you need it. A service called Our Frontline offers support from trained volunteers plus resources to help look after your mental health. This service can be accessed here: https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/ourfrontline/

If you have further questions, please call 119.

If you would like to know more about the test or where to get information from, please get in touch with the office as we may be able to provide you with some further guidance. This is not a mandatory requirement for our staff but we are encouraging those of you who wish to participate to do so. 

As always, continue practice social distancing, wearing your PPE and upholding your personal hygiene. If you experience symptoms arrange to complete a Covid-19 test and await the result. If you have any concerns relating to self-isolating, symptoms or test results please get in touch with the office.