NCF publishes mandatory vaccination survey results

November 11, 2021

The National Care Forum (NCF) conducted a member survey this month to find out the impact of mandatory vaccination for care home staff and providers.

All staff working in a care home must be doubled jabbed or exempt – if not, they cannot cross the threshold into a care home from today.

NCF said everyone running care services is committed to achieving as high a level of COVID vaccination as possible. However, NCF members have consistently stated that they do not believe mandation is the best way to achieve this; rather, finding the best results from persuasion and encouragement, with good information and support, taking the time to address concerns with respect and discussion. NCF added that when the Government consulted on this policy earlier in 2021, the majority of the general public and people using care services did not support mandation of vaccination for care home staff.

The NCF conducted a survey over a seven-day period (2-8th November 2021) to gather responses from not-for-profit member organisations who run care home services.  Respondents support over 11,000 people, operate approximately 300 services and employ approximately 14,000 staff.

Findings reveal that care providers fear they will lose around 8% of their care home staff as a direct result of this policy.

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • 5% have already left as a result of resignation or dismissal.
  • A further 4.4% might yet leave (including those who have self-certified for exemption or are seeking medical certification at the moment.
  • 91% of respondents said that they had required additional HR time.
  • 93% said they had to run additional one-to-one sessions for staff to talk them through the policy and its implications, with 74% providing whole team briefings for their workforce.
  • 53% of respondents said they have incurred additional costs for specialist legal advice on how to implement this policy.
  • 58% of respondents have run disciplinary hearings and 40% are managing appeals.

What does this tell us about the true cost of mandating vaccination? NCF shared the following observations from its survey:

  • For the people living in care homes and their families, it means that long serving experienced staff with whom they have a trusted relationship will no longer be there to care for them and support them.
  • For the staff who have lost their jobs it means that they can longer do the job they loved as a direct result of the Government’s policy of vaccine mandation – a policy that is not yet being applied to any other workforce in the country.
  • For care providers it means they are facing even more pressures to have enough staff to provide high quality, consistent care at a time when recruitment and retention are increasingly difficult.
  • For the wider health system and the NHS, it means that more requests for help to discharge people from hospital into care homes cannot be met.

Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum said, ‘The national roll out of the policy has been chaotic. Respondents have been critical, stating that their experience on the ground is one of a policy ‘badly thought through’ and that the timing of the policy is ‘out of touch’ with the enormous pressures experienced by the care workforce.'

Vic Rayner added, ‘Since the introduction of this policy we have been vocal about the unnecessary high cost – in terms of human costs, financial costs and the loss in trust and goodwill amongst care staff and their employers as a direct result of this policy. Care homes have been the unwitting guinea pigs through the implementation of this policy, and the impact on people must not be swept under the carpet. It is vital that the government learns from this experience and makes changes for the wider roll out of this policy. As we face a very difficult winter ahead, lessons must be learnt in how not to introduce a policy that has long term consequences on the very people we need to deliver the care and support many people and communities rely on.’

Matt McDonald, employment partner at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, said, ‘For some care homes, compulsory vaccination may mean losing only one or two staff, for others it could be a significant proportion of their workforce. Either way, if the safety of residents is compromised, we could see care homes’ services suspended or worse and them having to shut their doors.

‘Some people may be in the tricky situation of waiting for their second jab. In these cases, employers can try to agree unpaid suspension with employees as an alternative to dismissing and subsequently trying to re-hire individuals once they have received their second jab.

‘Employers should also be wary of unfair dismissal claims being made against them. Disgruntled unvaccinated ex-employees may come knocking, but claims shouldn’t succeed if the proper processes were followed. Consultations with staff should have taken place, with options discussed and alternatives considered.

‘Unfortunately, alternatives are limited, as those that are unvaccinated and not medically exempt are banned from working inside care homes, no matter their role.’

Visit the National Care Forum website to find out more about the NCF survey.

In other news, Care England has appealed to the Government to involve providers in the Build Back Better plans for health and social care reform.

 


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