Staff working in all CQC-registered care homes must be fully COVID-19 vaccinated, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed.
The announcement follows a public consultation, to which VODG submitted a representation, on making COVID-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in older adult care homes.
The policy will apply from October 2021 to workers employed directly by care homes or care home providers (on a full-time or part-time basis), those employed by an agency, and volunteers. Workers must have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, unless they are medically exempt.
Dr Rhidian Hughes, Chief Executive of VODG, said:
“Clarity around contentious policy proposals is always welcome, particularly when details of policy intent become public via media reports before any official government announcements are made.
“VODG supports any move that strengthens safety and safeguarding for people who draw on social care services. We welcome a consistent approach in the policy response to COVID-19, which has been much lacking over the last year. This new approach recognises that the risk of transmission in residential or close contact settings is an issue not just for older people’s care homes.
“The government consultation response highlights that views on the proposal among the social care sector is mixed, which echoes the response from our own engagement on this issue with VODG members.
“Given the potential divisiveness of this proposal, we would urge the government to tread carefully and work with people who use services, the workforce, providers, and commissioners to fully understand how best to implement. Alongside this, the sector needs sufficient resources and guidance. The government must also be alert to the ethical and professional issues at work and should seek to closely monitor impact.
“As such, we call on DHSC to issue guidance that has been properly consulted upon by key groups of stakeholders from across the sector to ensure it is fit-for-purpose first time round.
“Without considering and mitigating against significant implementation issues and potential unintended consequences, such as the knock on to workforce supply, particularly in regions where there are higher levels of vaccine hesitancy, there is a risk that this proposal, while noble in its intent, will only serve to create much larger problems for services already under strain.”