The Statutory Instrument will make it mandatory for anyone working (including visiting staff such as hairdressers, tradespeople and entertainers) in a CQC registered care or nursing home to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus unless subject to a medical exemption. A number of concerns about the legislation were raised in Parliament including the lack of clarity and practical detail about how the legislation is to operate; the absence of any assessment of the impact on the care home workforce and care homes in general and the confusing analysis of current vaccination levels in the sector.
All staff directly employed by the care home or employed through an agency, as well as all volunteers, will need to be fully vaccinated with both doses of the vaccine, unless they have a medical exemption. The government has published guidance on how this will impact NHS Staff, who are not currently required to be vaccinated, who visit care homes as part of their work. There will be exceptions for visiting family and friends, under 18s, emergency services and people undertaking urgent maintenance work.
There will be a 16-week grace period from when the regulations are made to when they come into force to enable staff who haven’t been vaccinated to take up the vaccine. All staff should, therefore, be fully vaccinated by 11 November. With a majority of adult social care staff eligible for their second dose eight weeks after their first, this means that all staff should have received their first vaccination by 16 September.
Any staff or visiting professionals entering a care home would need to provide evidence of their vaccination or exemption status. Vaccination status can be shown using the NHS App (please note this is different from the NHS Covid-19 App) or NHS website. If a member of staff does not have access to either of these then they can request a NHS COVID PASS letter to be sent to them instead. The government has published full details of how passes can be accessed.
The NHF will continue to represent members’ views on this issue including on the practical support needed by organisations to implement the policy. If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming changes then please get in touch with our team today.