Access to Care Home Staff Coronavirus test results

This guidance is to assist Care Home managers when dealing with information relating to staff testing for Coronavirus. Those eligible to take a test include residents who live in Care Homes, Children’s Homes run by the Local Authority or Learning Disabilities residential services. It also includes the staff who work in these settings. Further information about who is eligible can be found here

Tests are entirely voluntary. Staff may be invited by their employer to get tested but cannot be forced to have a test. 

A positive or negative test result may mean staff need to take further action. If positive, they may need to self-isolate, if negative, they can return to work. Employers can ask staff if they have been tested (and if so the result of the test). However, employees do not have to disclose if they have had a test or the result, unless:

  • This impacts on their working ability (e.g. if they need to self-isolate for 7 days, the employer will need to make plans to manage their absence).
  • There is a possibility coronavirus was contracted in the workplace which would require the employer to report this to the Health and Safety Executive (as part of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995).

When staff are registered for testing by the Care Home, the Manager who books the test:

  • Must not input their own contact details, or generic Care Home contact details for receiving the staff results.
  • Should input the staff member’s contact details. Ideally, staff should be present with the manager when the test is booked so that the individual being tested can provide accurate contact details for the test. 

Staff members being tested should:

  • Ensure that they receive a text/email verification message when they book a test and flag to their manager if they do not.
  • Staff results must go to staff first, before potentially being shared with the Home manager.
  • Under no circumstances can Home managers receive staff test results before the staff member.

Accessing results without the knowledge or permission of the staff member is a breach of confidentiality and is illegal under the Data Protection Act 2018 (Section 170 - unlawfully obtaining personal data). This should not happen under any circumstances. Monitoring and reporting measures should be introduced to ensure this. If the record is accessed without permission of the individual, it should be reported immediately. If access continues following the publication of this guidance, then it should be reported as an information governance breach through local reporting measures including reporting to the Information Commissioner’s Office where necessary. 

Non-clinical staff should have no need to access test results. Dashboards have been made available to support local analysis of COVID-19 data. If a staff member tests negative, then there is no need for the employer to know this, as this will not change the employee’s behaviour. In addition, staff who test positive will inform their employer through their need to self-isolate and this way the employer can take necessary actions to support staff.  In all cases, access to test results should only be required for legitimate and necessary reasons.