Dear colleagues,

At the request of Public Health England (PHE), we have added a number of additional questions to the Capacity Tracker relating specifically to systematically identifying ‘recovery from outbreaks of COVID-19 in care homes’. Around 40% of care homes in England to date have experienced outbreaks of COVID-19 and the duration of these outbreaks has been prolonged in many instances. Existing PHE data enables an understanding of when an outbreak has begun but not when an outbreak has finished and the home is in recovery. Understanding how long outbreaks last and how quickly outbreaks are controlled is a very important issue for both PHE and the care home community. It may also be a trigger for changes in the advice and guidance about control measures that must be followed at the onset of the outbreak.

PHE define ‘recovery’ from an outbreak as no new cases (clinically suspected or laboratory confirmed) in either staff or residents in a care home for 28 days or more. Once this point is reached, the care home is then described as ‘recovered’. Any subsequent cases beyond this time point may indicate another outbreak and again could be the trigger for new infection control measures that must be used for a period of time. In order to get accurate information, we are asking care home managers to enter data on new laboratory confirmed or clinically suspected cases of COVID-19 infection in either residents or staff on the Capacity Tracker every day.

We hope this will not be a demanding ask and that colleagues will understand the value of having timely and accurate information to identify outbreaks and when they have ended. The new questions are listed below and will be available in the Capacity Tracker on Thursday 11th June replacing the existing COVID-19 questions. Explanations will be provided alongside each question on the form in the Capacity Tracker:

  1. Number of Staff NEWLY SUSPECTED with COVID19 TODAY
  2. Number of Staff NEWLY CONFIRMED with COVID19 TODAY
  3. Overall number of Residents with COVID19 (either suspected or confirmed) currently in the care home
  4. Number of Residents NEWLY SUSPECTED with COVID19 TODAY
  5. Number of Residents NEWLY CONFIRMED with COVID19 TODAY
  6. Number of these residents that were admitted from outside the care home TODAY

This data will be used by Local Authority Directors of Public Health and Directors of Adult Social Services and their partners, local Health Protection Teams, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and care homes themselves to understand how effectively any identified outbreaks are being controlled and what further help and support may be needed. The information will also be used at national level by the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, NHS England & NHS Improvement and partner organisations to further develop public health programmes and policy initiatives to support care homes in preventing and managing outbreaks of COVID-19 now and over the coming months.

We will closely monitor the impact and value of these additional questions and welcome feedback from end-users via