Government proposals to limit care home staff movement are “ill-thought through” and will be “hard to implement”, according to the National Care Forum (NCF).
The NCF is calling on providers to make their voices heard during a government consultation on the proposals, which closes on 23 November.
The proposals would prevent those providing nursing or personal care in care and nursing homes from working in two different care settings within a 14-day period unless this would result in unsafe staffing levels in a particular service.
Research published by the NCF yesterday found that 9% of its members had staff working in more than one care setting.
Executive director of the NCF, Vic Rayner, (pictured) said: “Many providers have already limited the movement of their staff but this does not appear to have been acknowledged by the proposal. In the midst of the very significant staffing and financial pressures around delivering care in the midst of a pandemic, managers will be expected to negotiate with staff around critical issues which could have potentially devastating impacts on an individual’s personal circumstance.
“Rather than seeking to regulate to reduce staff movement at short notice in the middle of a pandemic, the approach needs to be more supportive and practical. Our research with members shows that the Infection Control Fund, which has to date been utilised to minimise staff movement, vastly underestimates the costs that providers already incur, before adding on a meaningful compensatory mechanism to address shortfalls in workers’ incomes. Simply legislating against staff movement does nothing to solve the fundamental issues of recruitment, retention, high turnover rates and competition from other sectors.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to protecting care home staff and residents, and stopping staff movement in and between care settings is critical to minimise the risk of infection.
“Our Adult Social Care Winter Plan is backed by an extra £546 million Infection Control fund which has been extended to May 2021, and over 300 million items of PPE have been distributed through the PPE portal free of charge to adult social care providers so far.
“We encourage care providers to feedback on our proposals through our online consultation.”