The program will run in several homes in Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon from November 16, with the hope that it can be rolled out more widely before the holiday season.
One family member or friend per resident will be offered regular testing – either home PCR kits or a rapid nursing home lateral flow test – which is designed to be combined with PPE so that ” meaningful visits ”can be made without a screen.
This means that risks to residents, staff and visitors are reduced and visits to the interior could be possible.
The pilot is part of the mass testing rollout across the UK, with each care home initially receiving a box of 675 lateral flow tests.
The Department of Health and Social Affairs says it will then be rolled out to more homes, if data supports it, and testing will be confined to the area.
Health and Social Affairs Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how heartbreaking the restriction on nursing home visits has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation. , but also for their loved ones who cannot just hug you to support them in this difficult time.
“With the growing testing capacity we have in place, we can now begin to test a new way to enable safer visits and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I must stress that this is only possible if the public takes the right steps now to control the transmission rate while the national restrictions are in place. ”
Care Minister Helen Whately said, “As Christmas approaches, I want to end the pain of separation and help nursing homes bring families and loved ones together. Launching visitor screening is a critical step in achieving this.