Coronavirus testing extended to social workers without symptoms of disease

Testing extension in England also applies to care home residents without symptoms

Image of Covid-19 coronavirus test (credit: jarun011 / Adobe Stock)
(credit: jarun011 / Adobe Stock)

Update: 6 May 2020

On 6 May, the Department of Health and Social Care told Community Care that, among social care workers, only those working in care homes could access a test without having symptoms of coronavirus. Find our more here.

Frontline social workers and care workers in England will now be able to obtain a coronavirus test regardless of whether they are exhibiting symptoms or not.

The move is part of an extension of testing announced today which also includes providing tests to asymptomatic care home residents and is part of the government’s drive to reach 100,000 tests by the end of April. The figure for yesterday (27 April) was 43,563.

Since 17 April, frontline social workers in England have been able to access tests, booked through their employer, but only if they were displaying symptoms of Covid-19, resulting in them having to self-isolate or take sick leave.

The new arrangements mean that social workers who are well, working but concerned that they may be carrying the virus and at risk of passing it on to colleagues or the people they support will be able to access a test. While the World Health Organisation has said that the Covid-19 virus is mainly transmitted symptomatically, it has found that transmission can occur pre-symptomatically and, potentially, asymptomatically, though it is conducting further research on this.

Tests, which involve taking a swab from the nose or back of the throat, can now also be booked through self-referral, as well as through employers.

They are being largely carried out through regional drive-through testing sites, though the government is also developing mobile testing units – which can travel to deliver testing – and home testing kits.

Who is covered by the testing arrangements in England?

The following groups of social care, or social care-related, staff in England can access Covid-19 tests while asymptomatic:

  • Social workers, care workers and other frontline social care staff, including volunteers;
  • Social care support staff;
  • Those working in the social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of equipment and medicines.

More from Community Care

17 Responses to Coronavirus testing extended to social workers without symptoms of disease

  1. ANB April 29, 2020 at 2:40 pm #

    This relates to England only

    • Mithran Samuel
      Mithran Samuel April 29, 2020 at 3:01 pm #

      Sorry for not mentioning that in the story. Updated now – thanks for pointing out.

    • Laney May 14, 2020 at 12:50 pm #

      I applied for a test this morning 14/5 and was able to get one immediately at Doncaster airport. 8:30 am. It was quite straight forward and no queue. i am about to start a new post with children’s services and thought it best that I got tested.

      I have no symptoms. The message is clearly misleading, one minute social workers can get tested with no symptoms, but when some try they are unable to. I suggest they simply order a home testing kit from the Gov site.


  2. Tim Cole April 30, 2020 at 10:50 am #

    I am an agency carer without symptoms of Coavid 19. I am extremely worried about the growing number of deaths within Care. Before I undertake another frontline shift I want to be tested for the virus as i feel vulnerable and am worried about passing this deadly virus onto vulnerable elderly residents can you help me to get tested ASAP please?

  3. Jane Brown April 30, 2020 at 2:54 pm #

    This isn’t happening, my social workers have been directly exposed, are asymptomatic and have today been told they don’t qualify for testing unless they have symptoms. (England)

  4. C.Mukanga April 30, 2020 at 3:24 pm #

    I have just tried to book myself for the test l don’t have symptoms. It is saying you need to have symptoms can l continue with booking.

  5. S April 30, 2020 at 4:11 pm #

    Tried to book a test as a front-line homelessness worker (no symptoms but have to go into work) however systems are at odd with the announcement – they are still saying you need symptoms (england)

  6. Adult student April 30, 2020 at 8:57 pm #

    Did you omit *student social workers?* as usual they are put on the bottom pile! There is scant protection for students and they are not usually insured by the Universities nor placement agencies. My university has no insurance for us whatsoever. Crazy. The independent Union is the last resort, if effective.

    • JW May 2, 2020 at 11:17 am #

      I’m not sure what you mean by not insured. Your university has a general duty of care towards you. This includes a duty to ensure that any practice placement they expect you to attend can guarantee adequate assessment and management of risks you may be exposed to. It’s not enough for them to devolve this responsibility entirely to the placement, they have to have oversight. Placements too have the same duty of care towards you and the same legal responsibilities towards your safety as they do towards their employees. Ultimately you have a contract with the university and they have a duty of care to ensure your safety across all elements of your training. This should include ensuring that placements are ‘safe’ for you to attend (in this line of work it’s difficult to manage all of the risks we are exposed to). Infection control/PPE is manageable and I would suggest your university amends their practice documents to include a section on this issue. When setting up your placement ensure that this is discussed and recorded so that you have a plan for how your safety should be managed. If you don’t feel safe, say something. Take it up with your student rep or become one yourself.

  7. Patrick May 1, 2020 at 6:51 pm #

    Govt coronavirus website today ( tho last updated 29th April) states that the additional testing is for
    “social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms)”.
    This may not therefore include all social workers not in care homes.
    Can this be fully checked by community care.

  8. Margaret Fowles May 1, 2020 at 8:55 pm #

    I am trying to book a test for both My Husband and I as we both work in a care home. We have tried going on the site but it stipulates it is for people with symptoms only. Can you please advise me how to apply online for testing without symptoms.

  9. Sharon Waddington May 4, 2020 at 6:54 pm #

    I work in a care home I would like to apply for the test

  10. Lindsey Sach May 6, 2020 at 2:41 pm #

    I am a social care worker, I don’t have symptoms but want to find out how to get tested

    • Pete May 6, 2020 at 4:30 pm #

      Why be tested if no symptoms?
      Surly a waste of your time

  11. Elaine May 6, 2020 at 5:43 pm #

    I work for an agency I don’t have symptoms but feel I should have a test. Like a lot of people I am being put in a difficult position I want to work but my health is important too.

  12. Smartie May 10, 2020 at 7:50 am #

    Im asymptotic, booked and had a test about week ago, and got my results very quickly by text. My question is, as a visiting social worker can we only have this done as a one off, or on a regular weekly basis?

  13. Agnes White May 11, 2020 at 1:59 pm #

    As a frontline social worker we are expected to undertake visits to families (some of whom we do not need to) purely to satisfy the needs of targets. Whilst I would welcome a test, a one off test would not suffice given that we are expected to undergo regular visits (without adequate PPE may I add) which leaves myself and the families open to being contaminated.