The government’s decision that all care workers must be vaccinated, unless medically exempt, provided clarity for the sector, but has presented owners, managers and staff with a challenge – to get jabbed or ‘get another job’. However, with the November deadline fast approaching, it’s essential for care home managers and owners to get all their staff on board to ensure smooth continuity of operations, as well as maintaining staff morale. We’ve recently worked with one care home in Lancashire to help them achieve 100% vaccination amongst their staff ahead of the ruling. Fulcrum consultant, Elaine Gilvear, explains the steps she took to help them achieve 100% voluntary compliance.
The COVID-19 vaccination has been a matter of debate across the country, but in the care sector, it’s been ruled as a mandatory requirement for care home staff — who potentially face being fired if they refuse to have the jab. Working with senior and vulnerable residents, limiting any risk of coronavirus outbreak is absolutely essential – as demonstrated tragically during the pandemic in 2020; but, with only 22.7% of staff employed in social care settings (excluding domiciliary and young adult care) having received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 2021, the mandatory ruling was brought in.
Fulcrum consultant, Elaine Gilvear, has been working alongside a Lancashire care home client since July 2021. As the care home is owned by an organisation that is based outside the UK, having an experienced care professional provide expert knowledge and advice is an invaluable way of ensuring the care home is always meeting best practice, with a safe pair of hands guiding the management team.
Techniques to encourage 100% voluntary vaccination compliance
Elaine explains that proper trust and communication with the care home staff are essential for helping bring them onboard with new changes: “I hadn’t been in the home that long, but due to the situation I had to build a relationship with the staff early on and gain trust at every level. That’s been a key driver in managing the new mandatory regulations — they really do trust that I’m here to help them and the care home improve.
“Then, it’s about reassurance and listening,” she says. “Not just about talking. You have to consider: why are some of the care staff so fearful? Especially since the ones that wouldn’t have the jab had no conditions that meant they were medically exempt. They weren’t anti-vaccination at all, it was purely fear.
“Working alongside the care home manager, we got to the bottom of their individual reasons and supported each of them with the proper details, research and guidelines. They’ve now all had at least their first vaccination or are due their second one this week!”
Managing change at every level
Elaine’s role is not just to oversee the proper application of new systems being integrated into a care home, but also to make sure that they work to the best capacity of the staff and care management team.
“In a gentle way, you have to be persistent and keep pushing certain changes, so they become part of the regular running of the care home — especially when it comes to new ways of working for a care home team. Managers have a lot of things to do, but this is just too important to take your eye off the ball. That’s why my role as a consultant can help to keep track of these regulatory changes and why they need to happen, because a care home manager already has a lot on their plate to begin with, let alone adding something new!”
“The manager is very good at this care home, but it did take coaxing and it has to be implemented from that level down, because, in the case of vaccination, it’s not an easy topic to approach, going to your staff who are adamant they would not be having it.
“For example, one of the senior care staff was double jabbed already but didn’t want to have the booster. He did not see the reason why he would have to go through it again. So, providing the care home manager with the proper support, we talked to him together and now he understands the importance and is having his booster shot.”
Keeping compliance in check
One of the most important aspects of Fulcrum’s care consultancy is not just in helping to promote good compliance and best quality care systems, but also in making sure that the care staff can champion them as their own going forward.
“Under the previous ownership, the care home had a CQC inspection that resulted in a very low score — which was very much to do with an issue from the care provider; but under the new owners, they are now very vigilant and have adopted new systems to ensure all of their team, including temporary workers, follow rigid guidelines and checks to make sure their service is always above standard.
“When I first visited in July, they had already had COVID cases previously and had to close. Sadly, this meant they had also lost some of their residents due to the pandemic, which was a horrendous experience. Now, they are very strict with admittance and visitation and follow procedures to make sure that never happens again.
“The important thing is, everything I have come in to help and advise on, they have taken on board and committed it to their service. They know the vaccine is mandatory and they understand why. They’re willing to do it for their residents and to keep it up. Without sounding corny, they’re like a family —so it’s just as much to give support to each other!”
Our care home client in Lancashire is a shining example of how, when using the right approach for the care home and its operations, 100% vaccination compliance is manageable from the top down. Now having reached the target, implementing new systems to ensure there are no further risks to residents and build new stability and trust between the staff at all levels, the care home is performing better and can improve its CQC rating.