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.

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.

Changes to Covid-19 guidance for adult and older people care homes (Added 31 March)

The Scottish Government has written to services with updates to guidance for Adult and Older People care homes following a review of remaining pandemic recommendations.

All guidance will continue to be kept under review. It is anticipated that the remaining protective measures such as self-isolation periods for residents (cases and contacts), and restrictions on care home visits by community groups will be reviewed again in April.

You can read the letter here. 

We are aware that the information we released in a provider update yesterday (31 March) regarding asymptomatic testing for social care staff has caused some confusion.

We stated that all changes were to take place from Monday 18 April. The below text is a clarification to explain which changes should be undertaken as soon as it is possible and which changes will take place from 18 April. 

Letter to all registered childcare providers and childminders (Added 29 March)

The Scottish Government has issued a letter to all registered childcare providers and childminders with information on:

  • How to watch last Thursday’s event on the updated guidance and testing programme;
  • How practitioners can provide input to a forthcoming event on vaccination;
  • A point of clarification on the use of refillable cleaning products.

Updated Guidance for childcare settings regarding Covid-19 (Added 17 March)

The Scottish Government has issued a letter to all all registered childcare providers and childminders with an update on a unified approach across chldcare settings regarding routine protective measures and testing. 

Childcare Sector Omicron Impacts Fund (Added 11 February)

On 10 February 2022 the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy announced a further round of financial support for sectors of the economy impacted by the Omicron variant. This package of support includes a new £6.5 million Childcare Sector Omicron Impacts Fund to provide one-off grants to the childcare sector this financial year.

The Scottish Government has issued a letter with more information. 

Letter to all registered childcare providers and childminders (Added 4 February)

The Scottish Government has issued a letter to all all registered childcare providers and childminders with an update on the following:

  • ELC Covid safety guidance suite
  • Testing and Vaccination Communications Toolkit
  • LFD Kits: Orders and Deliveries
  • Fact-sheet on the self-isolation policy for contacts of positive Covid cases aged under 5 (Annex A)
  • Publication of the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill.

Changes to self-isolation and visiting for adult care homes (Added 20 January)

The Scottish Government has reviewed policy with Public Health Scotland and ARHAI Scotland and made updates outlined in a letter to the sector.

In summary, the updates are:

  1. Self-isolation periods for residents who are contacts of Covid-19 positive case or are themselves Covid-19 positive has now changed from 14 days to 10 days.
  2. Precautionary 14 days self-isolation of residents following discharge from hospital to a care homes has now been removed for residents on the non-respiratory pathway and has reduced from 14 to 10 days for residents on the respiratory pathway (the respiratory pathway is determined by the Respiratory Screening Tool as per the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual: Winter (21/22), Respiratory Infections in Health and Care Settings Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Addendum. To summarise, if you are on the respiratory pathway this means those that have answered ‘yes’ to the screening tool, that is they are Covid-19 positive or a close contact of someone who is Covid-19 positive within 10 days).
  3. Removal of guidance on limiting the number of households that can visit a care home resident at any one time to two. This follows the First Minister’s announcement on changes to guidance for the general public.
  4. Named visitors should be supported during outbreaks unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  5. Named visitors who visit a resident who is Covid-19 positive can visit the resident again during their isolation period.

Further details on these changes including any conditions that may be attached to them are detailed in the letter. The Scottish Government webpages will be updated by the end of the week to fully reflect these changes and Public Health Scotland will update its guidance to incorporate these changes.

Updated guidance on self-isolation exemption (Added 18 January 2022)

The Scottish Government has updated the self-isolation exemption guidance for health and social care staff. The updated guidance will be shown on this webpage in due course: Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates

The guidance means that staff who are identified as contacts and are fully vaccinated no longer need to undertake a PCR test before returning to work. They should take an LFD test instead. If the LFD test is negative and they don’t have a fever or other symptoms, they can continue to work following a risk assessment by their line manager. They should also continue to take an LFD test every day for a 10-day period.

The guidance clarifies that staff who test positive should pause their workplace LFD testing for 28 days (from day 1 of symptom onset or asymptomatic test date). If they are also required to PCR test weekly, they should also pause this for a period of 90 days.  Please note that the guidance highlights that the likelihood of a positive LFD test in the absence of a high temperature after 10 days is low, so further testing is not advised unless they have renewed symptoms.

The Scottish Government will produce a flowchart and FAQ document in the coming days to support the guidance.

Adult to child ratios and new notification during Omicron (Added 11 January 2022)

Like all services, early learning and childcare settings are operating under unprecedented circumstances due to the pandemic. The Omicron variant will be extremely challenging, particularly in terms of staffing.

To support continued delivery of safe, high-quality childcare for children and families as we move through this stage of the pandemic, we have temporarily adjusted our policy position on adult to child ratios and introduced a new notification.

High-quality experiences for children should be paramount. Adjusting adult to child ratios must only be used when all other options for additional staffing have been exhausted and a risk assessment has been undertaken. Our guidance gives information on the approach to risk assessment and the required notification.

Updated policy on self-isolation for social care workers (Added 6 January 2022)

Scottish Government has issued an updated policy framework setting out self-isolation guidance for health and social care staff. This is as a result of changes to the Covid-19 self-isolation guidance for the general population, which applies from 6 January, following the First Minister’s announcement on 5 January.

The policy framework sets out the conditions that will enable health and social care staff who are Covid-19 index cases (confirmed as positive cases), or contacts of a positive Covid-19 case to exit isolation early, in line with updated guidance for the general population.

As health and social care workers provide care and support to people for whom a Covid-19 infection can present a higher level of risk, additional safeguards will continue for care staff. These include testing regimes, infection prevention and control measures and personal protective equipment. This updated framework replaces the previous version dated 24 December 2021.

Letters to care homes and letter to housing settings (Added 20 December 2021)

The Scottish Government has issued two letters following the First Minister’s Parliamentary Covid-19 statement relating to further population based guidance and measures to take effect from midnight on 17 December to stem the flow of transmission of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

The first letter contains updated advice on adult care home visiting. The second letter contains updated guidance on visiting and social activities within supported housing settings.

Visiting in adult care homes updated in light of Omicron (Added 16 December 2021)

The Scottish Government has issued a letter to adult care homes, setting out updated guidance on visits in and out of adult care homes. This guidance follows the First Minister’s parliamentary Covid-19 statement of 14 December relating to further population-based guidance and measures to take effect from midnight on Friday 17 December to stem the flow of transmission of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

The letter emphasises that visiting and outings from care homes should continue to be supported and the measures that should continue to be in place to more safely enable these. This includes stringent IPC, testing and recommendations to limit the number of households that meet with a resident at any one time to a maximum of two households.

You can read the letter here.

Letter from Scottish Government on isolation for social care staff (Added 13 December 2021)

Donna Bell, Director of Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, has issued a letter with information on self-isolation arrangements for social care staff.

The letter outlines that the current guidance: DL(2021)24 - Update on isolation exemptions for Health and Social Care staff (scot.nhs.uk) for social care (and healthcare staff) should still be applied with one important addition.

This existing isolation policy for staff who are household or passing contacts of Covid-19 positive cases, exempts them from the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days when they:

  • are double-vaccinated
  • are asymptomatic and remain asymptomatic
  • undertake a PCR test (which returns a negative test result before returning to work)
  • undertake daily LFD testing for the remainder of the 10-day period.

An important addition to this is that staff must be

  • double vaccinated and have had their booster.

You can read the letter here.

Letter to all registered childcare providers regarding Omicron Covid-19 variant (Added 10 December 2021)

The Scottish government has issued a letter from Elanor Passmore, Deputy Director of Early Learning and Childcare, to all registered childcare providers. The letter contains an update on the Omicron Covid-19 variant and its potential impact on the childcare sector.

A letter has also been issued from Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, with an education update regarding the new Omicron variant.

Testing update for care home staff in response to Omicron and protective measures (Added 9 December 2021)

In response to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and emerging concerns about transmission, The Scottish Government has asked staff in the adult and older people care home sector to carry out an LFD test on a daily basis in addition to their weekly PCR testing.

Additionally all social care staff are encouraged to consider taking a LFD test on a daily basis, and particularly on the days they are working with potentially vulnerable people.

Staff are encouraged to record their result (positive and negative) on the portal for work based testing kits (issued from care home) or the portal for kits collected at a pharmacy.

Extra test kits can be collected at local pharmacy sites.

The Scottish Government has also released two letters from DCMO (Graham Ellis) and DCNO (Anne Armstrong) on “minimising the risk of Covid-19 transmission over the winter period” to adult care homes and care at home, supporting housing and day services.

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.