A WORCESTERSHIRE home care charity Crossroads Caring for Carers have asked the government to issue urgent guidance for people being discharged from a hospital setting back into their own homes, especially those who receive a care and support service.

Hospital discharge government guidance currently states: “All patients discharged to a care facility should be tested for COVID-19 48 hours prior to discharge and that result relayed to the receiving organisation.”

However, there is no requirement for COVID testing patients being discharged back into their own homes, even if they are in the vulnerable or shielding categories and in receipt of a homecare service.

Helen Simmons, care manager, said “Whilst we have been asking our Team Leaders to insist on COVID testing prior to hospital discharge, this is very much word of mouth and we are unable to refer to any “official” government guidance to support our request.

"Sometimes we are not made aware of someone’s hospital discharge until we get a telephone call from the family-based carer/relative.

"They say their loved one is back home and ask if we can resume their care and support calls. We also agree to take on new care packages, in preparation for when someone is due for discharge from hospital, but again we have no control over whether this person has been tested prior to discharge.”

Roger Garland, chief officer, said “This is potentially a very worrying and dangerous situation we find ourselves in.

"The absence of such guidance could put people at risk by spreading coronavirus throughout the community.

"Our care staff travel from home to home and also collect prescriptions and shopping on behalf of the people we support. Although obviously, we use the correct PPE, care staff and the people we support are being put at risk together with other visiting professionals who may be supporting someone with hospital discharge requirements.

"It is essential that the rules be changed to urgently require hospitals to undertake COVID-19 testing prior to discharging patients back into the community.”