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NIHR-supported VIVALDI care home study leads to new social care testing strategy

Published: 03 July 2020

The NIHR supported Vivaldi study has today published data from a large scale survey which looked at coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in care homes providing care for dementia patients and the elderly in England.

The Vivaldi study is being prioritised for delivery across England by NIHR as part of its portfolio of COVID-19 urgent public health research.

The study surveyed almost 9,000 care home managers and analysed data from whole care home testing. It identified higher levels of the virus among care staff, particularly among temporary staff who work in multiple care settings.

Evidence from the Vivaldi study suggests that care home staff may be at increased risk of contracting the virus, which they may then pass on to others if they have no symptoms.

The results are based on analysis of the survey responses from 5,126 out of 9,081 care homes for the over 65s in England. Care home staff were asked to report on the total number of confirmed cases among staff and residents since the start of the pandemic.

The weighted period prevalence of infection in:

  • residents was 10.5% (95% confidence interval: 9.9% to 11.1%)
  • staff was 3.8% (95% confidence interval: 3.4 to 4.2%)

Based on analysis of test results from the Whole Care Home Testing Programme (of all 9,081 homes tested via pillar 2 between 11 May and 7 June):

  • 2.4% of all tests were positive (9,674 out of 397,197)
  • 3.9% of residents tested positive (6,747 out of 172,066)
  • 3.3% of asymptomatic residents tested positive (5,455 out of 163,945)
  • 80.9% of residents who tested positive were asymptomatic (5,455 out of 6,747)
  • 1.2% of asymptomatic staff tested positive (2,567 out of 210,620)

The data shows that infections in staff are a risk factor for infection in residents and infections in residents are a risk factor for infection in staff. However, the magnitude of this effect suggests staff are more likely to transmit infections to residents than vice versa.

Emerging data also suggests that the number of new admissions, and return of residents to the care home from hospital, may be important risk factors for infection in residents and staff.

The new evidence published within the Vivaldi 1: coronavirus (COVID-19) care homes study report - in addition to the latest advice from SAGE - has set out the case for frequent testing in care homes and their staff and led a new Government social care testing strategy, announced by the Department of Health and Social Care today.

More information

Find out about the NIHR’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic


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