Tuesday 23rd March 2021

What to expect from a COVID-19 test

Jean Fletcher a Customer and Community Manager with Wates Living Space is volunteering at a pilot COVID-19 Lateral Flow Testing Centre...

What to expect from a COVID-19 test 

Jean Fletcher, Customer and Community Manager, Wates Living Space

I’m volunteering at a pilot COVID-19 Lateral Flow Testing Centre with Wolverhampton Homes, which quickly identifies any positive cases within 30 minutes.

The opportunity came up through our client Wolverhampton Homes, who've set up a COVID-19 Lateral Flow Testing Centre pilot programme for four weeks. The centre is based out at one of Wolverhampton Homes' satellite offices, which has been repurposed during the national lockdown. It operates Monday to Friday, 9am – 4pm.

No appointments are needed, and the testing is open to any member of staff at Wolverhampton Homes and contractors working with them like Wates Living Space. As construction and housing maintenance works continue to safely go ahead, providing regular testing gives residents reassurance that we're not putting them or staff at risk.

Before I started volunteering, I went for training at the Civic Centre in Wolverhampton, which is one of the largest testing centres in the country. During training, they took us through the process, the importance of confidentiality and how to put people at ease as they're taking the test. Particularly in our centre, the people getting tested are likely to be colleagues, so it's important that we have a degree of trust between us to keep results completely confidential.

As part of the training, we were taken into a live testing environment at the Civic Centre to see the entire process, from when people come in the door right through to when they get their results - all within 30 minutes. Here's what to expect:

When you enter the testing centre the first thing you need to do is register, where you'll be given a slip with a barcode on it. You'll then hand that slip to a volunteer tester like me, and I'll take the barcode to put onto your test. After this, you'll sanitise your hands and clean the area around your mouth and nose, to make sure there's nothing interfering with the test swab, and then you'll use the specimen to hit the back of your tonsils, avoiding the roof of your mouth, teeth and cheeks. You'll twist it about four times, before putting it up your nose as well and twisting it around ten times. Once that's done, we hand you a test tube with a solution inside to put the specimen in, and then we start the test.

We wait for 10 seconds to make sure that the specimen and the solution inside the test tube has mixed, after which we take it out and put some on the testing strip and wait for the results.  If somebody has tested positive, you normally know well before the 30 minutes are up, but we need to wait the full time to be sure. We take a photo of the testing strip and scan the barcode for Test and Trace, which also sends a text to the person tested to show their results. The test strip tells you if the test hasn't been carried out properly and is invalid, and I'm pleased that at our centre, we haven't had any false negatives or invalid test results so far!

There are some people who are initially a bit hesitant because they think it might be uncomfortable, but I did my own test recently so I can say for certain it's quick and painless. I've found once someone has been through the testing process once, we see the same people come back each week. We've got screens in place to ensure people's privacy, and tester like myself guide you through how to do the test. It's zero-contact and the hygiene system in place is fantastic. For example, if we have a positive test, we have all change our PPE and the whole building gets re-sanitised and cleansed down. I honestly feel safer there than I do going into a supermarket!

If you're thinking about getting a test, absolutely go for it. It's quick, easy and there's more and more places opening around the country offering Lateral Flow Testing. It takes 30 minutes of your time and it provides a lot of reassurance that you're safe and well.

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