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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland care homes to test all residents and staff | UK News

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COVID-19 testing is to be made available to all care home residents and staff in Northern Ireland.

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann said the roll-out of coronavirus testing for residents should be completed next month and a rolling programme for staff put in place.

Sky News recently revealed the role testing had played in a care home in County Armagh where 25 of the 29 residents with coronavirus have made a full recovery.

Mr Swann said: “Testing right across the care home sector is easier to demand than to deliver. It has always been my intention to over-deliver rather than under-promise.

Sky News was given exclusive access to Rosemount Care Home in Portadown where staff believe they are winning the battle against COVID-19
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Staff at the care home in County Armagh believe they are beating the virus

“Following detailed planning and preparatory work, I can now confirm that testing will be available to all residents and staff.

“There are some important sensitivities to be addressed. There are human rights considerations where residents may not consent to be tested or may not be able to consent for reasons such as dementia.

“The swab test for COVID-19 can be an unpleasant and intrusive process, so there are also issues in relation to subjecting frail older people to swabbing, particularly at homes where there are no outbreaks.

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“I am confident a way forward will be found on these issues, in close consultation with care home staff, residents and their family members,” he added.

At Rosemount Care Home in Portadown, where they have recorded an 86% recovery rate, staff claimed testing had been a critical part of their success.

Home manager Patricia Purvis said: “We found a lot of our residents were just off their food for a few days, generally not feeling well.

“In the early stages, we were asking for these people to be swabbed for early detection. I think that has helped us a lot.”

At present, Northern Ireland care home staff and their families have access to testing if they have symptoms.

In the case of a potential outbreak – when two or more staff or residents have tested positive – all staff and residents are tested.

Under the new plan, all care home staff and residents will be tested regardless in an attempt to ensure facilities remain free of COVID-19.

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