Guidance for the social care sector on Covid-19

This page contains links to selected information which may help homecare providers provide services, having regard to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and thereafter.

This resource was first developed in the early stages of the pandemic in March 2020.

Much of the UK government's guidance on COVID-19 produced during the pandemic has now been withdrawn, but there remains some guidance of interest to the public and homecare providers.

The guidance changes from time to time, so please ensure you are using the latest update of the guidance concerned.

Government guidance for the general public

There is a listing of government guidance at: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

There are currently no COVID-19 restrictions in the UK.

COVID-19 symptoms and what to do if you have them

Government advice is if you have COVID-19 you should try to stay at home.

There is NHS advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19 and what to do if you are at greater risk from the virus at:

How to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19 - NHS (

There is information on COVID-19 symptoms and what to do if you have symptoms at: COVID-19 symptoms and what to do - NHS (

You can use this online tool from the NHS to find out what to do if you, or somebody else, has a medical problem: NHS 111 Online - Get medical help.

The NHS offers treatment to people with COVID-19 who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill: Treatments for COVID-19 - NHS (

There is a collection of documents on treatments here: COVID-19 antibody and antiviral treatments - GOV.UK (

There is guidance for People with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19 and COVID-19: guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk.  This replaced guidance for those people who were included in the shielding programme during the pandemic, which ended on 15 September 2021. 

There is also advice on Pregnancy and COVID-19 - NHS (

Living safely with respiratory infections including COVID-19 includes advice on when to consider wearing a face covering or a face mask.

People visiting healthcare settings may be asked to wear a mask or face covering following a local risk assessment, unless exempt, for which evidence should be provided: Coronavirus » Living with COVID-19: Visiting healthcare inpatient settings principles (

Visitors, parents, guardians, siblings will be asked to wear a surgical facemask if visiting a high-risk area in a healthcare setting or a patient with suspected/known COVID-19.


NHS COVID-19 rapid lateral flow tests are no longer free for most people. You can buy tests in shops but you cannot report the result of those tests to the NHS.

You may still be able to get free COVID-19 rapid lateral flow tests from the NHS if you:

  • have a health condition which means you're eligible for COVID-19 treatment.
  • work in healthcare or in a hospice

There is guidance on Testing for COVID-19 and on what to do with your test results and how to report them, if you are eligible for a free lateral flow test, at:

Test results for COVID-19 and how to report them - NHS (

There is information on PCR testing here: COVID-19 PCR home test kit instructions - GOV.UK (


You can get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the NHS.

Spring 2024 vaccination

Health Minister, Maria Caulfield, has accepted official advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to offer a COVID spring vaccine to those most at risk of serious illness in England.

JCVI advises that the following should be offered a COVID-19 vaccine in spring 2024:

The advice on eligibility is similar to last spring, but with the age of individuals who are immunosuppressed now eligible reduced to aged 6 months and over, from 5 years and over in 2023. This follows updated advice last April on COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 6 months to 4 years in a clinical risk group.

Statement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on the COVID-19 autumn booster programme,

The Health Minister said it is important the most vulnerable groups are offered a vaccine through the NHS programme to strengthen their immunity to protect themselves and reduce pressure on the NHS.

UKHSA surveillance data on last spring’s programme showed that those who received a vaccine were around 50% less likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 from two weeks following vaccination, compared to those who did not receive one.

Vaccine uptake for last year’s spring programme for those aged 75 years and over was 67.5%.

NHS England will confirm details on how and when eligible people can access the spring vaccine in due course.

Autumn 2023 booster

The Health and Social Care Secretary has accepted the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice that those at higher risk of severe COVID-19 should be offered a booster vaccination in autumn 2023.

This means booster COVID-19 vaccination will be offered in England to:

  • residents in a care home for older adults
  • all adults aged 65 years and over
  • persons aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, as defined in tables 3 and 4 of the COVID-19 chapter of the Green book
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts, as defined in the Green book, of people with immunosuppression
  • persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers, as defined in the Green book, and staff working in care homes for older adults

Eligible groups omit healthy adults below the age of 65, who are not eligible in any other group.

JCVI advice relates to the UK, so other UK nations are expected to follow suit.

JCVI advise that to optimise protection over the winter, the autumn programme should aim to complete vaccinations by early December 2023.

The Health and Social Care Secretary said, in early August 2023, that NHS England will confirm details on how and when eligible people can access the autumn booster vaccine shortly and urged anyone invited – including those yet to have their first jab - to come forward as soon as possible.

JCVI also advised that, from autumn 2023, primary course COVID-19 vaccination should consist of a single dose of vaccine, with eligibility the same as for autumn 2023 booster. Details of exceptions to this advice, such as for those who are immunosuppressed, will be set out in the Green book.

There is information about the flu vaccination campaign for winter 2023/24 here.

Health and Social Care Secretary statement on autumn booster programme - GOV.UK

COVID-19 vaccination programme - GOV.UK (


There is information about the long-term effects of COVID-19 at:

Long-term effects of COVID-19 (long COVID) – NHS (

The website 'Your Covid Recovery' is intended to help people recovering from COVID-19:

Your Covid Recovery - Supporting Recovery for Long Covid

Travel advice

You do not need to take a test or quarantine when you arrive in the UK:

Travel to England from another country – COVID-19 rules

You should check travel advice for any country you are travelling to.

Government policy background and COVID-19 App

The Government in England implemented a COVID-19 Response – Living with COVID-19 Plan in February 2022, replacing previous regulations with public health measures and guidance.

The NHS COVID-19 app was part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme. The App closed on 27 April 2023, and is no longer used.



Government guidance for social care providers

Update on care home visiting and control of infection:

Guidance issued April 2024:

Supporting safer visiting in care homes during infectious illness outbreaks - GOV.UK (

Update on PPE, April 2024:

The free PPE offer has now closed and as of 1 April 2024 providers will need to purchase their own PPE. The PPE Portal will continue to be available and can be used by adult social care providers to order PPE on a paid-for basis. You can find guidance on this at: PPE Transition.

The ongoing paid-for access to the PPE portal will be reviewed further in coming months. 

Current guidance on PPE usage (both in acute respiratory infection contexts, and more broadly) can be found as follows:

Update on COVID treatments and testing, March 2024:

The attached letter from the Department of Health and Social Care, on the latest Infection Prevention and Control updates with particular relevance to COVID-19, includes a clarification that from 1 April 2024:

  • the group of people eligible for COVID-19 treatments is widening. You can find guidance on COVID-19 treatments and accompanying testing via this link. The eligibility list is widening to include people in care homes and hospitals who are over 70, or have a BMI of 35+, or have diabetes or heart failure. Outside care homes and hospitals, people aged 85 years and older will be eligible, as well as people waiting for organ transplant and some people with end-stage heart failure. It's important to have COVID-19 tests to hand if people eligible for treatment display symptoms so that they can use the tests to access treatments. The tests are available via pharmacies. Providers should identify people who may be eligible under this guidance and ensure that they have tests available for when needed.
  • People aged 75 years and older, residents in care homes for older people, and those aged 6 months and over with a weakened immune system will be offered a dose of COVID-19 vaccine this spring. The letter encourages providers to support uptake.
  • The 119 testing phone line will also be closing.
  • Of more relevance to residential care settings, the testing procedures for outbreaks and for discharge from hospitals to care homes will also be changing.

See also:

COVID-19: testing from 1 April 2024 - GOV.UK (

Please continue to follow core Infection Prevention and Control guidance (including ensuring appropriate training):

Update on Infection Prevention and Control guidance, January 2024:

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have issued new guidance (31 January 2024) which replaces the previous COVID-19 Supplement to the Infection Prevention and Control Resource for Adult Social Care. We recommend that all providers review the guidance, which can be found here: 

Infection prevention and control (IPC) in adult social care: acute respiratory infection (ARI) - GOV.UK (

Please note that the table on PPE use has been revised and is now in a separate document which is listed here.

The letter from the Director of Adult Social Care Delivery, attached, outlines the key updates to the guidance. 

One notable difference is that the guidance covers all Acute Respiratory Infections and not just COVID-19.

Other changes include (but are not limited to):

  • Staff who have both symptoms and a positive COVID-19 test result (N.B. staff are not required to test by the guidance) should stay away from work for 5 days from the onset of symptoms rather than 5 days from the test date.
  • There are adjustments to the PPE guidance, for example, eye protection is now advised when within 1m of a person with an acute respiratory infection (rather than 2m); the guidance on gloves and aprons is also more explicitly based on risk assessment subject to exposure to bodily fluids.

This guidance is a supplement to the Guidance on Infection prevention and control in adult social care settings. This applies to England and includes homecare settings. Providers should also implement the: Health and Social Care Act 2008: code of practice on the prevention and control of infections.

Other notes:

The NICE - COVID-19 rapid guideline NG 191 - Managing COVID-19 which covers the management of COVID-19 for babies, children, young people and adults in all care settings remains in place. See also the guidance on managing COVID symptoms in the section on advice for the general public above.

There is no routine or symptomatic staff testing in place at the moment. People who homecare providers support (or staff) may still need to test if they are eligible for COVID-19 treatments, such as antivirals - NHS information is available on who is eligible (N.B. eligibility changes from 1 April 2024). Testing might also be required if advised to by a Local Health Protection Team. (Further information about testing changes available here). 

The Homecare Association's information on eligibility for and encouraging COVID-19 and flu vaccination is at: Encouraging vaccination take-up (

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued guidance on some key things organisations need to consider around the use of personal information, as COVID-19 measures are relaxed across the UK: Data protection and Coronavirus-19 – relaxation of government measures | ICO

There are Bereavement resources for the social care workforce, aimed at social care workers and managers affected by loss during, of following, the pandemic.

Information on COVID-19 vaccination and supporting take-up

The Homecare Association's information on eligibility for, and encouraging COVID-19 vaccination, is at: Encouraging vaccination take-up (

This has information about COVID-19 vaccination, flu vaccination and issues such as vaccination and pregnancy and fertility.

Information for family carers and informal carers

The COVID-19 supplement to the infection prevention and control resource for adult social care includes current guidance on vaccination, personal protective equipment (PPE), and testing aimed at professional care staff but sections will be of interest to family carers.

Here is a selection of guidance and advice for family carers:

COVID-19 guide | Carers UK

Looking after family or friends after they leave hospital.

Alzheimer's Society, Coronavirus support for people affected by dementia.

Diabetes UK, Coronavirus (COVID-19) and diabetes updates

Guidance - Support for the bereaved.

The NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme provides a lump sum for eligible families of members of the workforce who passed away due to contracting COVID-19 at work. In England, the scheme has been extended until 30 September 2023, to give bereaved families as much time as possible to make a claim. The scheme for Wales is also extended to 30 September 2023.

Maintaining mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Homecare Association's information on maintaining mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic has now been moved and consolidated into a new, general resource for members Resources to support staff mental well-being (August 2023.)




There is information on insurance produced during the pandemic by Towergate Insurance Brokers, the Homecare Association's insurance partner, at: Coronavirus information - Towergate Insurance Brokers.


The following message was circulated to providers via Care Inspectorate Wales:

"Welsh Government has funded the provision of free PPE for onward distribution to the social care sector since March 2020 to ensure the protection of our valued workforce and the people they care for.

As you will be aware, from 1 April 2024 these arrangements will end, and the procurement of PPE will return to pre-pandemic arrangements. This means social care providers will obtain their PPE from the private sector.

It is critical that social care services continue to adhere to the latest infection prevention and control guidance. This continued support will help the sector manage the challenges that all infections and increased infection rates place upon our communities.

There are a range of resources available to support infection prevention and control in social care settings:

If you have any questions or concerns you can contact us via the Social Care Coordination mailbox: [email protected]"

Routine testing of staff is no longer in operation.

The JCVI recommended that frontline health and social care staff and those at high risk be offered COVID-19 vaccination in autumn 2023.


Guidance for the public

Main collection of guidance from Scottish Government

Facemask guidance update - (, May 2023 - return to pre-pandemic advice, based on clinical need based on infection prevention and control advice, meaning staff, patients, service users and visitors will not be routinely asked to wear facemasks in health and social care settings.

The COVID-19 guidance from NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government, including what to do if you have symptoms and treatments available to some groups, is at:

Coronavirus (COVID-19), information for the public

Homecare guidance

COVID-19 - Information and guidance for social, community and residential care settings

COVID-19 health protection guidance - COVID-19 - Conditions and diseases - Our areas of work - Public Health Scotland

National Infection Prevention and Control Manual: Home (

COVID-19: Clinical Care Guidance for Care at Home, Housing Support and Sheltered Housing


Free COVID-19 testing has ended for most people in Scotland.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): Staying at home guidance states if you have symptoms of COVID-19 you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others until you feel better. Testing is only available for specific groups to protect high-risk settings, support clinical care and for surveillance. You can still access testing if:

Detailed information can be found at NHS Inform.

Guidance on coronavirus testing for the social care sector: Coronavirus (COVID-19): social care and community-based testing guidance

COVID-19 Vaccination

Further updates will be included when details of the winter vaccination programme in Scotland are announced.

Eligible groups - COVID-19 vaccine information and resources - COVID-19 vaccinations - COVID-19 - Conditions and diseases - Our areas of work - Public Health Scotland

Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines you're eligible for | NHS inform

Winter vaccines | NHS inform

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine (

Support for businesses

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance (main collection of guidance for business, healthcare, education and housing).

Information about advice for businesses 


Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel

Northern Ireland

Government guidance for the public

Guidance and support on getting vaccinated, travel advice and staying safe.

HSC Public Health Agency, COVID-19: Information for the public

COVID-19 (coronavirus) | HSC Public Health Agency (

Government guidance for health and social care professionals

COVID-19 testing and stay at home guidance

HSC Public Health Agency, Guidance for domiciliary care providers in Northern Ireland - COVID-19

The COVID-19 Guidance for Domiciliary Care Providers in Northern Ireland was withdrawn from 10 July 2023. This follows the updated Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance issued by PHA, which recommended a return to the application of standard and transmission-based precautions when dealing with respiratory illnesses - effectively a return to “business as usual” status: Infection Prevention and Control Measures for Respiratory illnesses

COVID-19 Vaccination

Get a COVID-19 vaccination in Northern Ireland | nidirect

Children aged 6 months to 4 years at higher risk of coronavirus are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine | HSC Public Health Agency (

Information on the Northern Ireland COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

Care worker information leaflet

Online booking arrangements for domiciliary care workers registered with the NISCC.

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