Dear providers,

You may be aware that the Department for Education has recently released guidance to support registered residential homes to access tests for Covid-19. Please see below correspondence –

To ensure that children’s homes, as a critical service, are able to access tests swiftly, as soon as any child or member of staff begins displaying symptoms, DfE and DHSC have arranged to issue all registered homes with a batch of 10 tests each to hold on-site. These can be issued to symptomatic children or staff in exceptional circumstances, where homes are unable to access testing through the usual channels. Home managers will also be provided with access to the same national testing portal used by adult care homes and schools to order additional tests. Each home will be able to re-order one batch of 10 tests per 21 days, where a home’s supply is running low.

New ways to access tests quickly and easily are being added frequently by NHS Test and Trace, and those working or living in children’s homes should continue to access tests via these routes wherever possible. Please visit the get a coronavirus (COVID-19) test page for the latest information and to book a test. Depending on the information provided, this will give you a range of testing options available in your local area. These will usually be attending either a drive-through or walk-through test site or ordering a home test kit.

Next steps

We aim to deliver the initial kits to all homes who complete the form (please see details below) from early December onwards. Once registered on the portal home managers will receive an automated email advising them that an order has been placed, followed by a second email when the kits have been dispatched.

Further guidance on how to order tests and when these should be used will be published on GOV.uk shortly, and full instructions on how to administer the tests and what to do next are provided within each kit.

We will also host a webinar for home managers on the 7th December. This webinar will demonstrate the testing process from registration to receiving results.

This webinar also be available as a recording for those who are unable to attend the live event. To register to attend visit the link at: https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1408474&tp_key=284aeb6adb

What we need from you

In order to arrange the delivery of kits, and on-board homes onto the portal, providers need to register with Salesforce – the operator of the testing portal.

Salesforce is a secure cloud-based system that DHSC uses to store information on organisations eligible for accessing testing through the National Testing Programme. It allows us to see the number of kits that have been ordered by and delivered to organisations, along with any related queries submitted by that organisation to enable a better service.  The address you supply will be shared with Royal Mail for the purposes of test kit delivery, so we recommend you do not use the home’s address where possible.

To ensure your home is included in the list of eligible providers, please follow this link: https://request-onboarding.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/ to supply the information required to Salesforce. You will need to enter the code 99869778 to access the registration form.

If the organisational external reference field is not showing, please include your Ofsted URN alongside your setting name. We will be unable to authenticate your eligibility without this.

This must be completed by the 6th December.

The survey will ask you to provide:

  • Organisation External reference (this should be your Ofsted URN, which will be used to authenticate your eligibility)
  • Setting name (please include your Ofsted URN here if the organisation external reference field is unavailable)
  • Delivery address (we recommend this is not the home address where possible)
  • Home manager’s name
  • Email address (this must be unique for each account)
  • Telephone number
  • Job title
  • Organisation capacity (number of beds)
  • Name of local authority area

Please note that separate accounts will need to be created for each individual home, and the email addresses used for each account must be unique. However, the same delivery address can be used across multiple accounts.

If your setting does not complete the form linked above by the 6th December, or you would like to amend any of the details provided, please call the Test and Trace helpdesk on 119.

If you have any questions in the interim, please contact the DfE Children’s Social Care Covid-19 Unit at: COVID-19.CSC@education.gov.uk.