Academic Research into Testing
You may recall previous notes about this research, Professor Laura Shallcross has asked us to share the following:
‘Care homes have become used to regular testing for COVID-19 during the pandemic. In the future it is likely that care home testing will be ‘switched off’ and ‘switched on’ at different times in the year depending on rates of infection in the community. However, there is currently very little evidence to help policymakers decide when testing should be switched on or off.
We would like to do a clinical trial in care homes to answer this question. The trial would test out different approaches to testing for COVID-19 in care homes, with and without provision of staff sickness payments, and compare this to ‘standard care’ (what was happening in care homes before the trial). We would measure how testing impacted on health (number of hospital admissions, infections and outbreaks), provision of care (e.g. staff sickness, costs of testing, care home closures due to outbreaks) and quality of life by interviewing staff, families and residents. Finally, we would put this information together to get a holistic assessment of whether regular testing for COVID-19 is beneficial and under which scenarios. We would start by testing for COVID-19 in the trial, but ideally we would also test for other respiratory infections like flu.
We estimate that we would need around 300 homes to do the study and we would like to start the study this Autumn, so we can get answers quickly to inform winter planning.
We are keen to involve staff, residents, families, and providers at this early research stage. We would welcome your views on whether this proposal sounds like a good idea and if you have any suggestions for improvement.’