Regulations coming into force on November 11 making it mandatory for care home staff and volunteers to be double-jabbed against covid will likely result in homes being short-staffed.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have amended regulations to make it compulsory for all care home workers and other visiting professionals to be fully vaccinated unless they have an exemption or there is an emergency.
This means staff have to have their first jab by September 16 in order to be ready for the second dose before the rule comes into force.
But one care home manager in Thanet says although it is the best way to protect residents, there will be staff losses.
Toni Simmons-Leworthy, who manages Redcot Lodge in Margate, said: “I think it’s the best and only option going forward. We have a duty to protect the residents and each other.
“It’s just a shame the care staff haven’t had more time to make the decision to have it done. They have worked tirelessly through the pandemic and they now feel like they being punished for having an opinion.
“I am losing one carer and I know other homes that are also losing staff. The risk of being short staffed is greater than the risk of bringing covid into the homes when this comes into force.
“All staff at Redcot Lodge are tested weekly with the PCRs and at least twice a week with Lateral Flow tests.”
Job loss predictions
Government analysis on the impact of the regulations predicts that seven per cent of care home workers are likely to refuse vaccines, resulting in around 40,000 staff in England losing their jobs.
However, a poll by carehome.co.uk suggest that opposition to the policy within the sector is significantly higher.
A spokesperson for carehome.co.uk, said: “On the one hand, we have already lost thousands of care home residents to this awful virus and we should do everything we can to protect them. But on the other hand, by forcing people to have the vaccine, we could lose a huge number of care home staff, many of whom love working in care and see it as a real vocation.
“The government needs to give care homes some much needed support over the coming months to ensure they can cope with a possible recruitment crisis if care workers do end up leaving because of this policy.
“The huge number of deaths in care homes have been catastrophic and if compulsory vaccination of care home staff gives residents better protection that it should definitely be welcomed. But not if it plunges care homes into a staffing crisis as that is also detrimental to the health of residents and can put their lives in danger.”
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has published advice to help employers and staff understand the new rules.
The service says employers should have regular discussions about the new law with staff and any recognised trade union representatives or employee representatives before November 11 to help retain staff and avoid resignations or dismissals.
Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:“Care home staff across England need to be prepared for the upcoming change in the law around vaccinations, which kicks in from November 11.
“Workers may not have yet received two vaccinations and some staff may be concerned that they won’t get a second vaccination in time for the legal change. Others could be unsure if they are exempt from the new rule.
“Our advice can help employers to prepare for the new law. It includes tips on how to support staff to be fully vaccinated and avoid losing talented workers.”
Expanding the regulations
A consultation has now been launched over proposals to expand the double vaccination rule to all frontline health and social care staff in England.
It would mean only those who are fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt, could be deployed to deliver health and care services. The six week consultation will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers.
Find the consultation here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-vaccination-a-condition-of-deployment-in-the-health-and-wider-social-care-sector