Care homes workers to be fully vaccinated to protect residents

People working in CQC-registered care homes will need to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated with both doses.

  • Decision follows a public consultation with staff, providers, residents and families
  • Further consultation will be launched on whether to extend to other health and social care settings

Care home residents will be better protected from death and serious illness, following confirmation people working in care homes will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This new legislation means from October anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England for residents requiring nursing or personal care must have 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption.

It is to apply to all workers employed directly by the care home or from an agency (on a full-time or part-time basis), and volunteers deployed in the care home. Those coming into care homes to do other work, for example healthcare workers, tradespeople, hairdressers and beauticians, and CQC inspectors will also have to follow the new regulations, unless they have a medical exemption.

Based on evidence, the government will launch a further public consultation on whether to make COVID-19 and flu vaccination a condition of deployment in health and care settings.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said:

Vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritised and the majority are now vaccinated we need to do everything we can to keep reducing the risk.

Through our consultation we have listened to the experiences and concerns of providers and people living and working in care homes to help shape our approach.

We have a responsibility to do all we can to safeguard those receiving care including in the NHS and so will be consulting further on whether to extend to other health and social care workers.

This is the right thing to do and a vitally important step to continue protecting care homes now and in the future. I’d urge anyone working in care homes to get their jab as soon as possible.

There will be exceptions for visiting family and friends, under 18s, emergency services and people undertaking urgent maintenance work.

Data on vaccine effectiveness from Public Health England (PHE) indicates the COVID-19 vaccination programme has so far prevented 14,000 deaths and around 42,000 hospitalisations in older people in England (up to 30th May).

Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:

People working in care homes have played an incredibly important role throughout the pandemic caring for those most at risk from this terrible virus.

The vaccine is working, with over 14,000 lives saved so far. It’s only right that we take every possible step to protect those most at risk now and in the long term.

I want to take this opportunity to urge everyone working in social care to take up the jab if they haven’t already to protect those they care for, themselves and those they work alongside.

The Social Care Working Group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advises that an uptake rate for one dose of 80% in staff and 90% in residents in each individual care home setting is needed to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of COVID-19. While the majority of care home workers have now been vaccinated, only 65% of older care homes in England are currently meeting the minimum level of staff uptake for one dose needed to reduce the risk of outbreaks in these high-risk care settings – falling to 44% of care homes in London.

Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Professor Deborah Sturdy said:

I would like to thank all our social care workers for continuing to provide incredible care and support during the last very difficult year, for having the vaccine and supporting those in social care to be vaccinated.

We are seeing vaccines are important in saving lives and it is absolutely vital that anyone who has not yet taken up the opportunity should do so to keep themselves and those they care for safe.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said:

Vaccines are the most important tool we have against COVID-19 and they have already saved thousands of lives.

Having a high level of protection in care homes will reduce the risk to this very vulnerable population.

Evidence shows that 2 doses of the vaccine offers high levels of protection against hospitalisation from COVID-19. We also know that getting both doses of your jab reduces your risk of unknowingly passing the virus on to others.

That’s why it is vitally important to get both doses of your vaccine as soon as they are offered to you, to protect you and those around you. The more people that get 2 doses of the vaccine, the more lives will be saved.

Dr Pete Calveley, CEO of Barchester, said:

We believe that we should all do whatever possible to protect the most vulnerable of society, therefore we welcome the government’s proposal to require everyone working in a care home to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

We took the decision in February that staff working in a Barchester care home or hospital must be vaccinated and we have carried out extensive engagement programmes with staff, as well as one-to-one support to encourage this.

As a result we are seeing strong uptake and positive engagement with COVID-19 vaccination, and we are delighted that the outcome is that 99% of our staff are willing to have the vaccine.

There was significant support for broadening the scope of the policy to include all those coming into close contact with residents; and some support to include all those entering care homes, in any capacity. We have carefully considered a range of options regarding the extent to which the policy should be extended to other working or visiting adults in care homes.

Regulations will be laid before Parliament as secondary legislation. If approved by Parliament, there will be a 16-week grace period from when the regulations are made to when they come into force to enable staff to take up the vaccine. More than 1.2 million social care workers (78%) in England have now taken up the vaccination.

Working together with the NHS and PHE, the government is providing advice and information at every possible opportunity to support those getting the vaccine and to anyone who might have questions about the vaccination process to encourage people to come forward and get a jab when the offer comes.

PAYadvice.UK 17/6/2021

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