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Much of the UK government's guidance on COVID-19 produced during the pandemic has now been withdrawn, but there remains some guidance of interest to the public and homecare providers.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

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.

You can Get an NHS COVID Pass - NHS ( if you need it for travelling abroad.

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

General advice on COVID-19, symptoms and treatment

Guidance on reducing the spread of COVID-19, types of symptom, what to do if you have symptoms, and treatment for those at higher risk of becoming seriously ill is in the section Guidance for the general public above.

Infection control guidance for social care providers

As part of the Government’s Living with COVID-19 policy, the following guidance was put into effect from 4 April 2022 and remains current:

Guidance relating to COVID-19 testing for adult social care services was withdrawn on 3 April 2023 and Guidance - Coronavirus (COVID-19): providing homecare and COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings were withdrawn from 4 April 2022.  Their equivalent guidance, where it still applies, is included in the COVID-19 Supplement above.

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.

Testing policy from 1 April 2023

The guidance COVID-19: testing from 1 April 2023 - GOV.UK ( explains testing from 1 April 2023 onwards and sets out the purpose of ongoing testing, who will be eligible to access testing and when tests should be used.

There is more about testing in the Infection prevention and control in adult social care: COVID-19 supplement. From 3 April 2023, testing is only available in restricted circumstances.  See the Supplement for more details. The most notable changes for homecare providers include that:

  • Staff with respiratory symptoms will no longer usually need to test for COVID-19 (unless, for example, they are eligible for COVID-19 treatments such as antivirals). Staff with symptoms are asked to stay away from work during this time, in line with guidance for other respiratory illnesses (including staying away from others until they feel well again and do not have a temperature). Managers should undertake a risk assessment before staff return to work in line with normal return to work processes. 
  • People who test positive for COVID-19 should follow updated guidance to stay away from others for a minimum of 5 days and until they feel well and no longer have a temperature. This replaces guidance to stay away from others for up to 10 days and means tests to return to normal activities before 10 days are no longer needed. 

The people who homecare providers support may still need to test if they are eligible for COVID-19 treatments (such as antivirals - NHS information is available on who is eligible).

Homecare providers will no longer be able to order COVID-19 tests as an organisation (you will no longer need to test). If your staff or the people you support are eligible for COVID-19 treatments they can order themselves tests online (with support if required).

Further guidance on testing

Who can get a free NHS COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test

Guidance - COVID-19 PCR home test kit instructions 

Guidance - How tests and testing kits for coronavirus (COVID-19) work

Guidance - For patients, the public and professional users: a guide to COVID-19 tests and testing kits

Video on how to use a home testing kit

PPE and face coverings

There is guidance on wearing face masks in homecare in the COVID-19 supplement to the infection prevention and control resource for adult social care

This states that careworkers and visitors to care homes do not routinely need to wear a face mask in care settings or when providing care in people’s own homes. However, there are certain circumstances where it is recommended for staff and visitors to wear a face mask to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19, which are set out in the supplement.

Free PPE - announcement on 10 January 2023

The provision of free PPE for all health, social care and public sector workers for coronavirus (COVID-19) infection control, will continue between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2024 or until DHSC’s stocks run out (whichever is sooner). DHSC issue regular Estimated stock-out dates by PPE category - GOV.UK (

Other guidance on PPE ordering and use:

Guidance - PPE portal: how to order emergency personal protective equipment

Guidance - Personal protective equipment (PPE): local contacts for care providers

Care Provider Alliance - List of commercial suppliers of PPE (scroll down to end).

Guidance - COVID-19: Personal protective equipment use for aerosol generating procedures


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

Travel and international recruitment

There is guidance on Travel to England from another country during coronavirus.

Travellers are advised to consult Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK ( for advice on travelling outside the UK.

Health and social care staff can claim immigration health surcharge reimbursement. The scheme to exempt non-EEA nationals applying for a health and care visa to work in a health or social care setting, in an eligible occupation, from paying the immigration health surcharge is described here: IHS Reimbursement Scheme.  More from: Guidance Immigration health surcharge - applying for a refund.

The Homecare Association has a factsheet for members on International recruitment for homecare providers (log in required).

Data protection

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

Bereavement resources and Life Assurance Scheme

There are Bereavement resources for the social care workforce, aimed at social care workers and managers.

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.

DBS checks

The free of charge DBS and fast Barred List check service, introduced as an emergency measure to support employers recruiting health and social care staff into COVID-19 roles during the pandemic, ended on 11 May 2023:

Update - COVID Free-of-charge DBS applications and fast Barred List check service

The DBS Update Service continues, as does the Adult First Service so employers can get urgent adult barred list checks, where there may be significant risk to service provision should recruitment be delayed.  Applications made on or after 11 May 2023 will be processed in the normal way and fees will apply. There is more information here: COVID-19: How DBS is supporting the fight against coronavirus - GOV.UK.

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 latest COVID guidance for social care providers in Wales is available here:

Social care guide to controlling acute respiratory infections from winter 2023 to 2024 | GOV.WALES

A letter has been send reminding providers of robust IPC procedures as we move into autumn.

Guidance on PPE usage in domiciliary care is available via Public Health Wales:

Information for Health and Social Care - Public Health Wales (

Free PPE has been agreed until March 2024, following which it is anticipated providers will need to arrange their own supply:

Written Statement: Extending free PPE to the health and social care sector (30 June 2023) | GOV.WALES

Routine testing of staff is no longer in operation.

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

Keep up to date with COVID-19 developments:

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