Currently, people in independent living housing aren’t automatically eligible for coronavirus testing

20th May 2020

We have been asked by readers whether people who live in independent living facilities can be tested for Covid-19 in the same way care home residents and staff can be. 

The Department for Health And Social Care told Full Fact that currently, a new online portal set up to allow all care homes to access testing kits does not cover independent living facilities.

Independent living is a very broad term for housing that allows people with disabilities or the elderly to live on their own with access to services that can help them day to day should they choose to use them. A lot of different facilities fall under this term, and the level of help provided to residents can vary considerably, but, as the name suggests, it is seen as offering a more independent form of living than provided in nursing or care homes. 

The government has committed to testing essential workers, over 65s, people who can’t work from home, and their families if they display symptoms. It has also committed to testing care home residents and workers, and NHS workers and patients whether or not they have symptoms. This applies to England, with other UK nations having their own arrangements.  

The delivery of tests to care homes is currently being offered to facilities with a Care Quality Commission number. If you’re unsure if you or a family member’s housing falls under this remit, you could get in touch with the facility’s manager. 

The government also says that currently only care homes which look after older people or people with dementia can receive tests.     

Personal assistants and care workers working in independent living facilities are classed as essential workers and so are prioritised for testing if they are symptomatic. So if you are visited by someone who provides you with assistance in an independent living facility, they can be tested. 

Local councils, housing projects and health protection schemes are also providing guidance to those in independent living, so this could also be a good point of contact if you are worried about someone in a facility.