Home Covid Robust Testing for Airborne Illnesses Urged Across the Care Industry this Winter, to Protect Residents and Staff

Robust Testing for Airborne Illnesses Urged Across the Care Industry this Winter, to Protect Residents and Staff

by Lisa Carr

Airborne illnesses beyond COVID-19 and influenza must be part of prevention strategies in care homes to reduce hospitalisation of residents this winter, according to healthcare company Abbott. 

While the nation is increasingly familiar with COVID-19 symptoms, as well as influenza, there are airborne diseases that are also putting people at risk. Respiratory Syncytial Virus – known as RSV – is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. While COVID-19 and influenza testing are becoming common practice, visitors entering care homes with RSV may go undetected.

The vital role testing plays in protecting both care home residents and staff is supported by Care England, the leading representative body for care providers in England.

“It is helpful to raise awareness of other airborne diseases that care home staff, residents and visitors might be unfamiliar with. Before the pandemic, not many people had heard the term ‘coronavirus’, but increased awareness has helped most understand why safety precautions and testing are of paramount importance in the care sector,” commented Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive at Care England.

“We are fully aware of the immense pressure care homes are under as we head into the winter season, but the first line of defence against lesser-known airborne diseases – like RSV – is ensuring care staff are aware of it, increasing education on the symptoms, and ensuring testing is in place wherever possible,” added Green.

RSV symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, temperature, sore throat, and wheezing[i]. For those aged over 65, RSV accounts for 175,000 appointments with general practitioners, 14,000 hospitalisations and 8,000 deaths per year in the UK[ii]. There are currently no specific treatments for RSV infection and management is purely supportive through oxygen supplementation; therefore, prevention of contracting the disease is essential.

To detect RSV, care home providers should look to utilise kits that scan for airborne diseases – like Abbott’s ID NOW – a portable instrument used for front-line testing in health settings. It quickly provides results for COVID-19, influenza A & B, strep A and RSV, with positive results shown in a little as five minutes, and negative results in 13 minutes.

Gabriela Zackova, director of Dementia and Wellbeing at Loveday & Co Care Homes has recently added an ID NOW testing device. Gabriela said: “We’re excited to be using this point of care test for our staff, residents and their visitors. Last year, winter was one of the hardest times for our sector, not only due to the increased pressure to keep people safe, but also for our residents, who were separated from the people they love which had a significant impact on their wellbeing and mental health.”

“ID NOW is a small, lightweight machine, about the size of a toaster, that will allow us to make even better decisions about risk levels for numerous viruses, enabling us to provide a more robust screening process for everyone at the facility.”

Abbott has been a global leader in COVID-19 testing throughout the pandemic.

“While many staff and visitors will self-test for COVID-19 at home before entering the premises, it is vital precautions are taken for other airborne illnesses. By utilising a diagnostic testing device on-site, we can slow the spread of illness, better protect vulnerable residents, and minimise the risk of catching potentially life-threatening illnesses this winter,” added Sam Lloyd, general manager, Infectious Diseases at Abbott’s rapid diagnostics business in the UK and Ireland.

For more information on Abbott’s ID NOW testing instrument, visit: https://Globalpointofcare.abbott/idnow


[i] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv-symptoms-transmission-prevention-treatment/respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv-symptoms-transmission-prevention-treatment

[ii] https://www.ovg.ox.ac.uk/research/respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv

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