All care home staff and volunteers will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 11 November, unless exempt.
Many of the care homes we have spoken to are fearful of the consequences this new legislation will have on current staff and future recruitment. Some expect to lose staff and have already seen candidates withdrawing applications due to the new legislation.
In some care homes, all staff is already vaccinated, but this does not prevent concerns about future recruitment and questions about what happens to sub-contractors, including hairdressers, and non-care staff who must also be vaccinated.
Social care generally has experienced staff shortages for years. Care home managers expect the new legislation to intensify existing barriers to recruitment, affect staff retention and further reduce morale which has already fallen because of COVID-19.
Ashley Green, Chief Executive of Healthwatch North Yorkshire, and Siân Balsom, Healthwatch York Manager agree about the findings: “The concerns we’ve heard from care home managers aren’t a surprise, but some are very stark in their warnings of the impact of mandatory vaccinations.
“Care homes we spoke to question the decision where all healthcare staff and care home visitors don’t have to be vaccinated. There was strong sentiment that this is being seen as further unfair treatment of an undervalued sector.
“There is an irony that while almost all the care homes we spoke to recognise the importance of the vaccinations to protect vulnerable people, the new rules might put residents at risk due to staff shortages and low morale.