Vaccines in care homes

Category: Employment, News

I am sure we are all fed up with Covid-19 and vaccine news by now, considering it has been circling the global news channels for well over 18 months; however, the new legislation being passed by the UK Government was far too important not to make Nash Knowledge this month.

From November, it will be a requirement for people working in CQC (Care Quality Commission) care homes in England to have been vaccinated against Covid-19. We take a look at how the Government arrived at this decision and what it means for those affected.

The Consultation

In April 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care launched an open consultation seeking views on making vaccination a condition of deployment. The majority of those consulted, 57%, did not support the proposal; however, 76% of care home providers were particularly supportive of the plans.

The Government’s decision considers the consultation and follows advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that states that 80% of staff and 90% of residents must receive at least one dose of the vaccine in order to provide a minimum level of protection. The Government’s own figures show that only 65% of care homes in England currently meet that target.

What Does the Law Say

Despite some concerns that were raised in Parliament, the draft legislation has now been approved meaning that anyone deployed in a care home in England with residents aged 65 or over, which is registered with the Care Quality Commission, must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 unless they are exempt. This law, once implemented, will affect around 15,000 care homes.

The new regulations have been fast tracked through Parliament and the requirement to be fully vaccinated will come into force on 11 November 2021.

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Who is Affected?

In short, everyone carrying out their jobs. The regulations require that all CQC registered service providers (or registered managers) of accommodation for those who require nursing or personal care in a care home must ensure that a person does not enter the care home unless one of the exemptions apply (see below). This means that it is not just employees that are affected but job interview attendees, volunteers, agency workers, CQC inspectors and tradespeople, such as hairdressers or beauticians that must be fully vaccinated.

The rules do, however, only apply to people who go inside of a care setting, so as long as someone is not entering the building, they would not need to show vaccination status. The registered person, who is registered with the CQC as a manager or service provider, is responsible for ensuring that everyone entering is either vaccinated or exempt.

What are the Exemptions

Firstly, visitors are not affected. A friend or relative, whilst advised to get the vaccine, is not required to be vaccinated. Similarly, the residents themselves are not required to be vaccinated. In terms of those deployed within a care home, the exemptions are fairly restricted and predominantly focus on medical grounds.

However, other exemptions include that it is reasonably necessary for the person to provide emergency assistance (for example, members of the public assisting with fires, floods or safeguarding concerns), urgent maintenance (fixing gas, electric or water supply etc.) and emergency services carrying out their duties. Finally, persons aged under 18 are not required to be vaccinated.

Proving Vaccination or Exemption

Currently the NHS are considering how an NHS Covid Pass (Covid Passport) service could be used to demonstrate and check vaccine status, however, for the moment persons can use the NHS App, the NHS website or the NHS Covid Pass letter to demonstrate their vaccine status. Importantly, a person’s NHS appointment card cannot be used as proof of vaccine status.