We regularly update the information and guidance on our Covid-19 web pages. Some of the information on these pages comes from the Care Inspectorate and some comes from other official bodies involved in pandemic response across social care. We encourage all care services to keep themselves up to date by revisiting these pages on a regular basis. We also encourage visiting other online sources of information and guidance such as the websites of Scottish Government, NHS Inform and Public Health Scotland.

Care Inspectorate guidance for services

As information, guidance and practice about Covid-19 is becoming established and less subject to rapid change, we are no longer maintaining the Covid-19 FAQs or the Covid-19 compendium. For key information, view our Covid-19 information page below and the guidance links on this page.

Archived Updates

You can find older updates on the Archived Updates page.

Care homes for older people Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance: what has changed during September 2022? (Added 29 September)

The changes to IPC guidance throughout September bring care services ever closer to business-as-usual for service delivery.

We recognise that there may be anxiety around implementing some of the changes. With continued application of Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs) and, where needed, Transmission Based Precautions (TBP) when caring for individuals who have suspected or known infection the risks can be managed and reduced.

The Care Inspectorate support the implementation of updated IPC guidance and will take this into account when visiting services.

You can find a summary of guidance changes and links to further information here.

Joint statement supports winter vaccination programme (Added 8 September)

Scottish Care, the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland, the Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Services Council have issued a joint statement to support the winter vaccination programme for social care staff. You can read the statement here.

Scottish Government provides update for social care on face masks, testing and vaccination (Added 8 September)

Updated Covid-19 face mask guidance for social care including adult care homes

Following a review of advice, the Scottish Government has updated its guidance on the use of face masks in social care settings including adult care homes.

The updated guidance recommends that face masks do not routinely need to be worn at all times within social care settings. Instead face masks should be for particular situations (for example following staff judgement, advice from health protection / public health or personal choice). This is because although Covid-19 continues to spread, transmission rates are lower and the virus is currently milder than at earlier stages in the pandemic resulting in a reduction in severity of illness and hospitalisation.

Full details are available online Coronavirus (Covid-19): use of face coverings in social care settings including adult care homes - gov.scot (www.gov.scot). Importantly, the fundamental principles of infection prevention and control precautions continue to be essential.

Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland and Public Health Scotland will update their associated guidance documents as soon as practically possible.  

Providers are recommended to implement the face mask guidance as soon as possible from 14 September, or earlier if they are ready to do so. The recommendations in the guidance will require discussions with staff and those receiving care and support before adoption. For some services, the changes may be able to be implemented fairly quickly while for others, it may take longer.

Scottish Government is working with Scottish Care to host a webinar regarding changes to face masks and testing within social care. This will be open to all staff within social care to ask any questions they may have about the guidance. The date will be circulated within networks once agreed.

Review of asymptomatic testing in health and social care

A review has taken place of the remaining regular asymptomatic testing in place for health and social care staff and in high-risk settings. Scottish Government will issue advice for health and social care in the week beginning 12 September. This will have updated guidance materials and an implementation date of the end of September. Until this guidance is issued, staff should continue to test as per Coronavirus (Covid-19): social care and community based testing guidance - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

Covid and flu vaccination – autumn/winter 2022

Vaccination and the protection it offers staff and those they care for and support is important.  The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued advice for the Winter Covid-19 and flu programme recommending those most at risk, or those who come into regular contact with those most at risk, become eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine dose to maximise their protection over winter. Where possible, this will be co-administered with the flu vaccine, which is a safe and effective way to deliver protection.

The online booking portal for frontline health and social care workers can be accessed, along with other information on the programme and eligibility, at Winter vaccines | NHS inform. The direct portal page link is Login - Customer Service (nhs.scot).

Carers who are aged 16+ are eligible for both Covid and flu vaccination this winter. The majority will be called for vaccination later in the programme, as part of the ‘at risk’ group. At this point, appointments can be booked on the portal or through the helpline for those who don’t have digital access. The only exception is that the over 65s will shortly be sent letters with timed appointments. In those letters, it will say that unpaid carers are eligible for vaccination and give instructions on how they can book. If someone they care for gets a letter, the carer can book their appointment from that time. 

Removal of notification requirement (Added 9 June)

Early in the pandemic, we introduced a notification for providers to notify us if a service was closed due to the impact of Covid-19. While services are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic including a low level of infections, there are far fewer restrictions on how we live and impacts on the operation of care services.  In recognition of this, we have decided to remove the notification ‘Change of service delivery due to Covid-19’. Therefore, there is no requirement to notify us if a service is closed for a short time due to Covid-19.

We understand there are certain circumstances when services close for a period of time and can apply to be inactive for a period of up to 12 months. You can find the details of when this can be considered and how to apply here.

New guidance materials on Open with Care: Supporting Meaningful Contact in Adult Care Homes (Added 2 June)

The Scottish Government has produced new guidance materials for Open with Care - Supporting Meaningful Contact in Adult Care Homes.  

These new documents build on best practice by care homes and have been developed in consultation with a range of people including care home provider representatives, Public Health Scotland, health and social care professionals, relatives, residents and the Care Inspectorate. They have been designed to provide information for different audiences, in as relevant a way as possible.

The purpose of this suite of documents is to:

  • update the Open with Care visiting guidance
  • set out principles and expectations for supporting people living in care homes to maintain connections
  • give an overview of the measures in place to support visiting, signposting to more detailed guidance where relevant. 

The guidance principles document should be should be read in conjunction with public health and infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance from Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland (Winter Addendum) and Pubic Health Scotland guidance for care homes (see links in document).

To support communications, hard copies of the family leaflet will be issued to care homes by the end of June.

PHS Covid-19 - information and guidance for care home settings (for older adults) v.3 (Added 2 june)

This guidance was updated on 31 May with one change: New staff or agency staff working in the care home: Agency staff are now advised to undertake a PCR test within the previous 7 days before starting in the care home (formerly 48 hours). Risk assessment considerations are included for care home management in situations where this may not be feasible including the use of LFD testing.

you can access the updated guidance here.

Variation changes for care homes and care at home extended to April 2023 (Added 7 April)

Social care continues to face challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and we continue to support the care sector by adapting what we do, when needed.

To support services to provide support to a wider group of people, there will continue to be no requirement for providers to submit a variation for any care service type where:

  • a care home for older people is caring for youngeradults or vice versa
  • care at home services care for clients with different careneeds
  • there is a change of operationalhours.

This will continue until April 2023.

In these circumstances, there is no requirement to submit a variation form. Instead, you should simply confirm in writing through eForms, using the notification ‘Changes to service delivery’.

Within the notification, you should note what the change is and confirm the service can meet people’s care and welfare needs.

The notification will not trigger an inspection but may trigger contact from the inspector to discuss the changes you have put in place.

For care homes that are supporting people on an interim basis until care at home is available in their area, there is no requirement to notify the Care Inspectorate. We will get this information from the oversight teams of homes being used in local areas. 

Coronavirus (Covid-19): adult care homes visiting guidance (Added 4 April) 

The Scottish Government has updated guidance on visiting care homes during the pandemic plus tools and resources on visiting, and supporting residents in homes with Covid-19.

Clarification on asymptomatic testing for social care staff (Added 1 April)

As soon as possible

The Scottish Government has advised that daily asymptomatic (work day) LFD testing will no longer be required and social care settings should revert back to their routine, baseline asymptomatic testing as soon as this is possible. This is either a weekly PCR or twice-weekly LFD (apart from adult care home staff who will continue to test with a weekly PCR and twice-weekly LFD).  

This approach to testing in social care has been informed by clinical advice and is subject to ongoing review. LFD tests are extremely effective at picking up the virus in asymptomatic individuals, specifically when they are most infectious and therefore more likely to pass it on to others. This is considered proportionate while still offering sufficient protection to those at highest risk.

From Monday 18 April

The role of Covid-19 testing is changing from population wide testing, to targeted testing to support clinical care. The Scottish Government approach to testing in social care has been informed by clinical advice and is subject to ongoing review.

Based on this advice, regular asymptomatic testing will continue for parts of the health and care workforce. This is primarily in settings which are still considered high risk and/or where those using services are deemed to be at a higher risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19.

Testing will stop for staff groups in settings that are now deemed to be lower risk and/or in services which do not involve close personal care and contact or where clients are no longer at a higher risk of Covid-19.

For pathways/services continuing to test, we are moving away from using PCR testing (with the exception of adult care home staff) and asking staff to test twice weekly with LFD tests.

As stated, LFD tests are extremely effective at picking up the virus in asymptomatic individuals and specifically when they are most infectious and therefore more likely to pass it on to others.

Providers with excess LFD stock can pause their deliveries by calling the NSS helpline on 0800 008 6587.

For an overview of the social care asymptomatic pathways and changes in these pathways from Monday 18 April, click here.

Further information

Information is available on the NHS Inform website. The key messages for Scotland are:   

  • As part of the Scotland-wide, coordinated response to coronavirus, NHS 24 provides the most up to date information and advice here.  
  • NHS 24 has also set up a dedicated helpline for people who do not have coronavirus symptoms but are seeking information. The helpline number is 0800 028 2816 and is available Monday to Friday, 0800 to 1000, Saturday and Sunday, 0900 to 1700. 
  • People who have travelled to an affected area and have symptoms of a cough, fever or difficulty breathing should stay at home and phone their GP (family doctor), or call NHS 24 on 111 if their GP surgery is closed.
  • People with general questions are advised to visit www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus in the first instance. This is the quickest and easiest way to get information and it also means that the 111 service is able to help those people with more immediate clinical need. NHSinform includes an interactive self-help guide where people can answer a few simple questions on line to assess whether they need to seek further help or advice by telephone.
  • There is a communications toolkit with information for health and care settings to download, share and print  – please be aware that this is updated as the situation develops so should be checked frequently. Please use the latest version in your setting and update if required. 

NHS 24 has active Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels that are the official social feeds for Coronavirus in Scotland. You can follow these from the links below. 

Health Protection Scotland has also produced information and guidance which should be useful and this is updated at regular intervals.

The Scottish Government summary of response arrangements for coronavirus in Scotland can be found here.   

Other guidance

NHS Inform has published guidance leaflets and posters in a variety of different languages and easy-read format. You can download these from their website here.