What are the new vaccine regulations for care home workers?

Since the 16th of September, all care home workers were expected to have received their first vaccination dose, so they are fully vaccinated by the time the new vaccination regulations come in to force. If the initial reports are correct, it is estimated by the government that about 7% of the 570,000 people employed in English care homes will refuse the Covid-19 vaccine. Due to ministers declaring that all care home staff in England must be vaccinated against Covid-19 by 11 November 2021, this will mean that around 40,000 staff will no longer be able to work within the care sector and care for the elderly.

Do all staff need to get a COVID-19 vaccination to work in a care home?

The Department of Health & Social Care confirms that from 11 November 2021, all care home workers and anyone entering a care home will need to be fully vaccinated, unless they are exempt under the regulations. The regulations also require registered persons of all Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care homes (which provide accommodation together with nursing or personal care) to ensure that a person does not enter the indoor premises unless they have been vaccinated. This is subject to certain exemptions.

The regulations were laid in Parliament on 22 June 2021 and were made on 22 July 2021.

What are the regulations?

Below is a summary of the regulations:

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:

  • the person resides in the care home used by the registered person (a resident) – ‘registered person’ means person registered with the CQC as a manager or service provider in respect of a regulated activity – in this case, the regulated activity for the provision of accommodation for persons requiring nursing or personal care.
  • the person has provided the registered person (or those acting on behalf of the registered person) with satisfactory evidence that:
    • they have been vaccinated with the complete course of an authorised vaccine (the individual can prove they are fully vaccinated).
    • they, for clinical reasons, should not be vaccinated (the individual is exempt for medical reasons) – further detail below.
    • it is reasonably necessary for the person to provide emergency assistance in the care home (further detail below).
    • it is reasonably necessary for the person to provide urgent maintenance assistance to the care home (further detail below).
    • the person is a member of the emergency services in execution of their duties (further detail below).
    • the person is a friend or relative of the resident visiting the resident (further detail below – this also includes unpaid carers or designated essential care givers).
    • the person is visiting a resident who is dying (further detail below).
    • it is reasonably necessary for the person to provide comfort or support to a resident in relation to a resident’s bereavement following the death of a relative or friend (further detail below).
    • the person is under the age of 18 (further detail below).

The vaccination requirement only applies to people who go inside a care setting (the definition of ‘care home’ does not include any surrounding grounds). As long as someone is not entering the building, they would not need to show vaccination status. You can read the full policy by visiting:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vaccination-of-people-working-or-deployed-in-care-homes-operational-guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-of-people-working-or-deployed-in-care-homes-operational-guidance

Care Home Management and Compliance Support

Owners and managers of care homes will likely be concerned about the regulations causing further staffing shortages in the sector as workers may opt to leave their jobs rather than have the vaccine, or if they are faced with dismissing workers for refusing to meet the requirements.

If you are concerned about your regulatory obligations or would like expert advice on how to minimise the legal risks for your care home, then book a free 15-minute 121 with us.

Our Care Home compliance experts can ensure your care home(s) meet(s) the regulation requirements, helping your home to achieve the best possible CQC compliance ratings while freeing the time of your directors to focus on the core business and its long-term goals.