Following the government’s announcement of a new law making COVID vaccinations for care home staff mandatory, Paul Ridout, Managing Director, Ridouts Professional Services Ltd, says providers should support the policy without delay.
All staff in care homes must be vaccinated against COVID says the Department of Health & Social Care. However, the law will not be changed before October 2021 and then there will be a grace period of four more months. This is simply too little, too late. This proposal is needed now or not at all.
Care homes have a clear duty to protect residents and other staff from the danger of infection.
Careful consideration should be given to care home staff being required to be vaccinated as a condition of being deployed in front line care. That can be a simple requirement for new staff or agency staff after appropriate consultation (which needs not be a long) providers should also consider requiring all existing staff to be vaccinated.
All objections and resistance should be carefully considered. There is no doubt that a vaccination requirement is in the best interests of resident and staff protection.
Providers should be firm in resisting requests for exemption. The issue here is protection of people in care and other staff. Exemptions will be rare. Personal preferences and medical concerns should not be an exception.
Perhaps current immunity following an antibody test might qualify.
Providers should not be overcautious. The priority is to fulfil health and safety obligations to protect those in care and not to endanger others through concern for personal circumstances.
Persuasion and peer group pressure through focus groups are clearly the best course, but in the final analysis providers should not hesitate to remove non-compliance from front line care, even by dismissal.
Those who refuse are not sick, but, are deciding to accept requirements which are a reasonable requirement for continued employment. In essence this is no different to visa/work permit requirement.
Government have signalled that vaccination is necessary. Care providers should support that policy by implementing vaccination requirements without delay.