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Care Home Workers to be Fully Vaccinated

Care Home Workers to be Fully Vaccinated

Vaccines have appeared as a beacon of hope for millions of people at the highest risk of COVID-19 complications – and nowhere have they been more welcome than in the health and care sectors!

As we write, the latest stats show that:

  • Everybody in priority groups 1-9 has been offered a vaccination.
  • Across England, 91.3% of care home residents have had two doses.
  • 1% of care home workers have had one jab, and 70.2% both.

However, we can’t forget that some people can’t have the vaccine, and others have elected not to, for a wide range of social, cultural, medical or personal reasons.

New government legislation means from October, all staff in any CQC-registered care facility must have a mandatory two doses, although those with medical exemption are not included.

Let’s explore what this means and the impact of compulsory vaccination programmes on the British care sector.

The New Vaccine Rules for Social Care Professionals

While Parliament hasn’t yet approved the legislation, it seems very likely the vaccine rules will become law from October 2021.

In short, they mean that:

  • Staff providing personal or nursing support in a care home must have had two COVID-19 vaccinations (of any kind).
  • All workers employed by a care home or care agency are included, plus volunteers in a care home setting.
  • Healthcare workers who attend care homes and other contractors (such as hairdressers or tradespeople) must also be fully vaccinated.
  • Workers with a medical exemption are omitted and will not be required to have the vaccine if they have a condition that prevents this.

There will be a 16-week grace period, so any care home workers who haven’t yet received both vaccines will have time to book themselves in.

As we all know, elderly and vulnerable patients are at a substantially higher risk of becoming severely ill with the Coronavirus.

The majority of care home residents fall into a priority group, with over 90% now fully vaccinated.

Care professionals have been able to book their vaccines from early on in the rollout, although these new rules make it a legal obligation to do so, applying to around 15% of care staff who haven’t yet received any vaccine dose.

Protecting Care Home Residents Through Staff Vaccinations

The compulsory vaccines will go some way to protecting those patients who are at such significant risk.

But, what happens to valued care home staff that refuse?

As it stands, they may find themselves unable to work or being redeployed away from front-line care to a position that doesn’t involve any patient interaction.

However, the former seems more likely, since the legislation includes all ancillary staff in a care home – including administrative, housekeeping or maintenance roles.

The debate rumbles on since compulsory vaccines are a good thing in terms of patient safeguarding. Still, they may cause significant issues for care homes that already struggle to recruit and retain outstanding staff.

Several organisations have voiced concerns:

  • The British Medical Association says that compulsory vaccine laws are a ‘blunt instrument’, which ‘carries its own risks’.
  • The Chairman of the Independent Care Group, based in Yorkshire, states that they are ‘disappointed’ and foresee the potential for legal disputes.
  • Unison’s General Secretary calls for encouragement, not legislation, calling the announcement the ‘government’s sledgehammer approach’.

Critics advocate for a gentler process, explaining the benefits of vaccination and easing concerns that mean some care home staff feel reluctant to take up the vaccine offered.

Given the public nature of the announcements, we don’t imagine a U-turn ahead, despite some objections to forcing social care staff to be vaccinated, even if against their wishes.

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The Future of Mandatory Vaccinations

As yet, the legislation impacts only care homes, and so there aren’t any specific indications that the government will roll out compulsory vaccine laws elsewhere.

There are, though, some signs that this could be set to change in the future.

The Department of Health and Social Care says that it will launch an extended consultation to evaluate whether vaccine laws will apply to other social care settings and healthcare facilities.

Consultation responses have highlighted the feelings of disparity in care home workers being ‘singled out’, so this extension seems to arise from those concerns.

In the future, there are hints that COVID-19 vaccinations and winter flu jabs will be a condition of employment in a care or healthcare setting.

However, we’ve yet to see any information about how this would be regulated.

For the time being, the Public Health England data on vaccine effectiveness shows that jabs have prevented 14,000 fatalities and 42,000 hospital admissions in older people, based on statistics in England up to 30th May 2021.

Insisting on care home staff vaccinations may mean that the remaining 52,000 care home staff who haven’t been vaccinated and are eligible could further protect vulnerable patients.

 

Vaccination Support for Care Home Workers

Here at OUTT, we acknowledge the compelling power of the vaccination programme to eliminate the highest risks of COVID-19 and help make UK care homes safer places for all.

However, we also recognise that some care home professionals may have concerns about how the mandatory vaccine rules will affect their careers and future employment prospects.

If you would like further information about the vaccines available, there are several resources out there:

  • The World Health Organization advice page includes details about how the vaccines work and the safety analysis criteria for each type of vaccine being offered.
  • You can download a FAQs document from the NHS England site explaining everything from side effects to ingredients.
  • Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed list of medical conditions that impact your eligibility for vaccination.

For care home workers who are keen to get booked in well in advance of the new rules, you can book online through the NHS Booking page, which confirms that all social care workers are eligible.

Please get in touch with the OUTT team if you would like to chat about current care home vacancies, other roles in the social care sector, or any information contained in this article.

 

Best Podcasts for Care Workers

Best Podcasts for Care Workers

Forget playlists and hours of scrolling on social media – podcasts for care workers are the smart way to wind down, level up and spend your spare time wisely!

Podcasts are a fantastic resource, and there is a world of knowledge out there. Choose from entertainment, comedy, current issues or education, and you’ll tap into a vast amount of information that can improve your health, teach you new things, and provide never-ending conversation starters.

Best of all – pick a few great podcasts to add to your listening schedule, and you’ll never run out of fresh episodes to engage with, and they’re nearly all free of charge! With that in mind, the OUTT.com team wanted to share some of our favourite shows streaming to a device near you, with amazing content that can be of use to care workers throughout the UK.

Ready, set, earphones in!

1. The Care Exchange

First up, The Care Exchange is a podcast series hosted by Skills for Care – and it’s a brilliant way to learn about every aspect of running, or being part of, a social care team.

Although aimed at employers, The Care Exchange is a valuable podcast that talks about staying motivated, harnessing the fresh energy of student care workers, and getting ready for a CQC inspection.

If you’d like to gain better knowledge into the nuts and bolts of what it takes to manage a great care team (or some tips to shine when it’s your turn to take a step up on the career ladder!), it’s well worth a listen.

2. The Health Foundation

Next, we’d recommend The Health Foundation podcast – with insights into both patient and professional perspectives of the UK health and care sector.

Ranging from thoughtful analyses of governmental policies to overarching health concerns that impact most of the population, it’s a broad-strokes overview of the importance of social care and what part we play in national wellbeing.

3. Untangle

Had a rough day or feeling like you’re struggling to recharge those tired batteries? Need to shake off a bad experience or reconnect with your passion for care?

Untangle is your new best friend. This podcast from the meditation app is a wonderful way to schedule some self-care in even the busiest schedules.

Soothing tones, brilliant guests, and a wide array of topics make Untangle an ideal podcast for people who need a little I-need-a-minute time – relationship issues, challenges with food, general mental wellbeing and guided meditations. Gold dust!

4. Research in Practice

Our fourth pick is Research in Practice. This series is a massive content library with episodes about every aspect of the care sector:

  • How childhood experiences impact people for life.
  • Tips for improving your record keeping.
  • Ways to ensure your care is person-centric.
  • How to enhance your conversations with patients and colleagues.
  • The value of an early intervention.

For care workers looking to round out their knowledge or gain information about different parts of the care work puzzle, this is a perfect starting point.

5. The King’s Fund

If you’re into the bigger issues, The King’s Fund is the podcast for you.

With a new episode every month, this dives deep into the complexities of the NHS, health policy, and how those higher-level strategies impact on-the-ground care services. It uses a tactic of taking real-life examples we can relate to and expanding them outwards to provide meaningful insights into the future of public health services.

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6. Think Local Act Personal

We love this podcast because it epitomises the qualities that so many care professionals bring with them to work in spades every single day!

Think Local Act Personal is all about a different attitude to social care – and it’s accessible for everyone, with a jargon buster toolbar if you’re listening on a device and want to decipher any of the terminologies. It’s also a great way to inform your work – for example, episodes on making real change, practical improvements, and enhancing the experience of care that every person receives.

Many expert speakers and a podcast dedicated to transforming social care through the people on the frontline.

7. Off The Gram

Whether you dread Monday mornings with a passion or feel like your crazy shift pattern is depleting your social life beyond recognition, Off The Gram is all but guaranteed to put a sparkle back in your step! This podcast is often hilariously funny, hosted by four fearless women who interview a vast range of people, from fashion designers to celebrity PTs, CEOs, and glass ceiling smashers

With a primary focus on wellbeing and self-care, Off The Gram is a life improvement exercise in entertainment and will make you feel in control, capable, and inspired.

8. Hempsons Health & Social Care Law Podcast

Now for something a little more serious – and important.

Hempsons podcast is heavy going, so it’s not motivational commute material, but it is an incredible tool if you’d like to educate yourself about social care law. Produced by the renowned British law firm, Hempsons are all about health and social care, working with:

  • Social care charities.
  • NHS trusts and foundations.
  • Non-profit organisations.
  • Private healthcare providers.

They know their stuff, and if you can spend 40 minutes or so a week having a listen in, you’ll have a solid grasp of the changes and initiatives coming your way.

9. Multiple Sclerosis Trust

We acknowledge that MS is one of the millions of conditions that social care professionals might encounter. Still, if you’re looking to specialise in caring for patients with any specific health challenge, learning as much as you can about it will be time very well spent.

The MS Trust podcast is one such resource, packed with information from people living with the condition and professionals finding new ways to manage it.

In the same way, you could opt for the What Works for Children’s Social Care as a great knowledge base, exploring evidence-based topics to help care professionals improve their awareness about working with younger age groups.

10. Let’s Talk About Care

Finally, we’d suggest giving Let’s Talk About Care a listen. There have been 19 episodes to date, with the most recent published in April 2021, and it’s a fascinating, often humorous, show about care. From personal stories to reflections on care standards, interviews with policymakers to professional staff, it’s helpful to gain a broader perspective on social care.

We hope you enjoy our rundown of the best podcasts for care workers – and some of these options add value to your busy working week! Found some incredible podcasts you think all social care workers should know about? Please share them with us! You can find our contact details and tonnes of information about how we’re improving the social care workplace one day at a time at OUTT.com.