Nearly three-quarters of care home staff believe staffing pressures in their care homes will deteriorate further as a direct result of the government’s requirement for staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to new research.
The new data from carehome.co.uk, the UK’s leading care home reviews site, also revealed that London and Northern Ireland have the highest rate of care home workers who haven’t received any Covid vaccine.
The survey of over 7,000 care home staff reveals the differences in UK’s regions of care home workers who haven’t received any Covid vaccine, with London topping the list at 21 per cent.
The North East reported the lowest rate of staff who are yet to be vaccinated, at 10 per cent, with 82 per cent double vaccinated and the remaining 8 per cent single jabbed.
The findings come after the deadline for care home workers to have received their first vaccine, with government analysts predicting that around 40,000 staff will lose their jobs due to refusing a jab.
In July, the government announced that from 11 November, everyone working in a care home in England will have to be vaccinated. In order to be fully protected by this date, all staff have to have had two doses by 16 September.
A spokesperson for carehome.co.uk, said: “Care homes have been on the front line against COVID-19 and are still coping with the fallout. These findings suggest the vast majority of care home workers fear mandatory vaccines will have a negative effect on staffing levels, adding to their struggle to recover from the pandemic.
“The government must provide care homes with the crucial support they need to ensure they can retain and attract more workers into the sector. The industry is already in the grip of a recruitment crisis and the mandatory policy threatens to exacerbate this, posing severe risks to the health and wellbeing of both residents and staff.”
Fifth of those not vaccinated worried it could affect fertility
The survey also found the reasons for care workers not wanting to have the vaccine, with just over a fifth worried it could affect fertility, 28 per cent having no confidence in the vaccination, 32 per cent seeing vaccination as a health risk and 40 per cent worried about the vaccine causing side effects.
The spokesperson for carehome.co.uk added: “Our survey shows there is a lot more work to be done by the government to boost confidence in the vaccine, with fears over fertility and health risks and side effects still high among care home staff refusing the vaccine.”
The survey, which ran from 17– 19 September, found 62 per cent believe colleagues will have to leave their care home because they are against receiving a vaccine, while 18 per cent think the policy will have no effect on staff losses.
Care England, which represents care homes, has been urging the government to change immigration restrictions on low paid foreign workers to address the staffing crisis in the care sector.
It wants the government to include all care workers on the shortage occupation list used to grant visas and reduce the qualifying salary level from £25,600, which is currently required for the recruitment of overseas care workers. The list, as it stands, includes care managers and senior care staff but not lower paid workers in care homes.
Prior to the pandemic starting in 2020, there were 112,000 care vacancies in England with jobs paying £8.50 an hour on average, according to Skills for Care.
The survey ran from 17/09/21 until 19/09/21. Full details of the questions can be found below.
Do you think staffing pressures will now get worse as a direct result of this policy?
Yes – 74%
No – 12%
Don’t know – 14%
How many doses of the vaccine have you received?
Single – 7%
Double – 78%
None – 15%
London: Single – 9.35%, Double – 69.94%, None – 20.72%
North East: Single – 7.92%, Double – 82.18%, None – 9.90%
East England: Single – 6.59%, Double – 78.91%, None – 14.60%
East Midlands: Single – 7.64%, Double – 77.76%, None – 14.60%
West Midlands: Single – 10.16%, Double – 75.63%, None – 14.22%
North West: Single – 5.07%, Double – 78.55%, None – 16.38%
South East: Single – 5.29%, Double – 80.76%, None – 13.95%
South West: Single – 5.84%, Double – 80.39%, None – 13.77%
Yorkshire: Single – 8.06%, Double – 80.39%, None - 11.56%
Northern Ireland – Single – 8.11%, Double – 64.86%, None – 27.03%
Scotland – Single – 5.18%, Double – 79.88%, None – 14.94%
Wales – Single – 3.74%, Double – 85.51%, None – 10.75%
Do you think staff will have to leave your care home because they are against getting the covid vaccine?
Yes – 62%
No – 18%
Don't know – 20%
For those in your care home unhappy to be vaccinated, what have been the main reasons?
This is not an issue - all staff have been vaccinated - 19%
No confidence in the vaccination - 28%
Consider the vaccination to be a health risk – 32%
Worried about side effects – 40%
They don’t consider covid to be a serious risk to their health – 10%
Concerns around fertility – 22%
Difficulty in receiving the vaccination – 1%
Fear of needles – 6%
They refuse medication in general – 5%
Convinced by someone else not to be vaccinated – 6%
Other – 10%
Don't know – 14%
National Care Forum (NCF) CEO, Vic Rayner OBE, has called on the government to take action to address the immediate concerns facing social care.
The NCF leader issued the call as the last remaining dedicated funding for social care to deal with social care is due to end tomorrow.
Vic said that while the funding is due to run out, the issues it is intending to provide support for – testing, staff sick pay, restricting staff movement, infection prevention control, visiting and vaccination – remain unchanged.
The NCF head said the sands holding up the delivery of social care were “shifting at speed” as the workforce crisis escalates.
“I don’t believe for one moment that the general public care more about whether they have a turkey on their table at Christmas than ensuring someone needing care and support gets consistent high quality care to enable them to live an independent life as part of their community,” Vic said.
“The political will to find a solution for the poultry industry, for the HGV sector, for the fuel pumps must extend to solutions for people who need care and support. The government must take action and the public must hold them to account.”
Vic’s comments came as Advinia Health Care became the latest provider to announce a care home closure.
The provider has begun consultation on the closure of Barrock Court in Carlisle due to a lack of qualified care staff.
New report shows 'relentless rise' in Ombudsmen's upheld complaints reflects failing social care system
The Ombudsman’s annual review of social care complaints shows the service found fault in 72 per cent of the complaints it investigated last year, up by three per cent than the previous year, thus showing a relentless rise over the last decade in the proportion of cases in which care users and their families have been let down by local services.
The faults in the Ombudsmen's investigations were often not due to one-off errors caused by staff working under pressure but increasingly caused by the measures employed by councils and care providers to mitigate the squeeze on their resources.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Viewed through the lens of complaints from the public, and our impartial findings, the adult social care system is progressively failing to deliver for those who need it most.
“Increasingly it is a system where exceptional and sometimes unorthodox measures are being deployed simply to balance the books – a reality we see frequently pleaded in their defence by the councils and care providers we investigate.
“At a time of such pressure, it is now more important than ever to listen to public concerns in the form of complaints: they provide free intelligence to spot problems and drive improvement.
“Following on from the recent government announcement, I hope this report and the evidence it contains can help contribute to the debate about what a more sustainable care system will look like in the future.”
'The Ombudsman is right to stress the importance of learning from such cases'
Stephen Chandler, ADASS president, has welcomed the report and highlighted the need for “funding” and “reform” in social care.
“Whenever older and disabled people, carers and families do not experience the high-quality care and support that they expect, it is essential their concerns are listened to and addressed.
"We welcome this report. The Ombudsman is right to stress the importance of learning from such cases and we support the call for greater awareness of how to express concerns.
"This report quotes the latest ADASS Spring Survey which cites the ‘growing disconnect between increasing social care need and the financial ability and confidence of directors to meet that need’ and underlines the urgent need for funding and reform that ensures that councils have the resources required to meet the needs of their local communities.”
'We also need to apply the lessons learnt from our response to COVID-19 in any future reforms'
Responding to the report, Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils and care providers have been doing all they can to keep vital care and support services going over the last year, which were already severely stretched before the pandemic.
“As this report rightfully highlights, coronavirus has exacerbated pre-existing pressures in the social care system, primarily caused due to underfunding.
“It is right that providers continue to work with the Ombudsman in its investigations, to make improvements to their services. We also need to apply the lessons learnt from our response to COVID-19 in any future reforms.
“The Government’s recent social care plan has some potential promise on charging reform, but has left open many more questions which need answering urgently.
“The Spending Review should be used to set this plan straight and provide upfront, desperately needed new funding to meet immediate demands and pressures in our care system so that people can live their best life.”
Care boss urges government to 'get a grip' on social care whilst prioritising petrol and food crisis
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says the government is willing to do anything to support some issues including “granting visas to overseas workers” to “tackle" the food and petrol crisis but continues to be “deaf” when dealing with the crisis in social care.
The ICG chair Mike Padgham has warned a whole raft of challenges is mounting which could push some care providers to the brink of survival just before winter. These include staffing crisis exacerbated by mandatory vaccination and Brexit.
Mr Padgham said: “The government is willing to do anything – including granting visas to overseas workers, to tackle food and petrol shortages but continues to be deaf when it comes to the care of our most vulnerable. It needs to get a grip on social care before it is too late and the number of people who aren’t getting the care they need, some one and a half million, doubles."
Mr Padgham said the care sector has already been hit hard by the inability to recruit overseas workers following Brexit and accuses the government of breaking policy.
“Why is the government breaking its policy on overseas workers for one sector and not for social care, which needs help just as urgently?
“We are facing a whole raft of problems but following Covid-19, the sector is already on its knees and further storm clouds are gathering that could push many providers to the brink, leaving the country short of care when it needs it most.
“The government will need to remember that care workers are just as vital as other sectors when it comes to ensuring they can get petrol.”
Mr Padgham also believes the government is going to need to provide extra financial support to care providers to cope with rising energy costs and increased insurance costs, following Covid-19.
A recent survey published by the Hampshire Care Association (HCA) which represents 230 residential and nursing care homes in the county wanted to know whether the current crisis is posing a threat to the financial sustainability of services, whether providers feel the current crisis could place them in a high-risk position with their bank or lender, whether insurance premiums have increased and whether insurers have removed cover for Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.
The survey found 66 per cent are concerned the current crisis could put the future viability of their service at risk with 20 per cent reported their bank or lender had contacted them directly to raise concerns with finances with one provider stating their bank had “no appetite for the care industry.”
The survey also showed 72 per cent of providers reported their insurance no longer covers Covid-19 public liability and 40 per cent are not covered for any infectious diseases.
One provider said: “[We were] previously covered for epidemic but they have now included no cover for pandemic or epidemic or any other ‘emic’ where they would have to pay out.”
“These are going to add huge extra costs at a time when they can least afford it,” Mr Padgham added. “They may be enough to send some to the brink of survival unless the government recognises it and does something to help.”
Residents at a care home are "at risk of abuse" after unexplained injuries were not investigated by staff the health watchdog has found.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said Charnwood Oaks Nursing Home in Shepshed, Leicestershire, requires improvement.
A report added Covid-19 measures at the home were leaving people "at risk" of catching the virus.
Operator Prime Life Ltd said an action plan to improve the home was in place.
According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), before the inspection in August the CQC had received a number of concerns about the 79-bed care home.
Inspectors found Prime Life Ltd, which operates the home, was not consistently protecting its residents.
The report read: "Unexplained injuries had not consistently been investigated to find a cause.
"For example, one person who had a visible bruise, had no records that evidenced these bruises had been noticed by staff or if any follow up care was required.
"This put people at risk of abuse."
'Not enough staff'
Inspectors noted while residents "had never felt unsafe" in the care home, there were not enough staff to ensure all areas of the home were monitored properly.
The report said the measures in place in Charnwood Oaks were leaving people 'at risk' of catching the virus.
This included protective equipment not being used for certain tasks.
Inspectors also said risk assessments had not been carried out to protect patients and colleagues when staff had refused Covid-testing.
A spokesperson for Prime Life Ltd said: "A change in management and a thorough action plan has been put in place, bringing about an immediate improvement to the quality of care.
"We are confident that their continued efforts will bring a sustained high quality of care for all of those who live, work and visit the home and we look forward to the CQC returning."
Staffing issues are behind a lack of available beds in Guernsey's care homes, a provider says.
CI Healthcare said the industry was "doing everything" to recruit more people, but staff shortages and island housing rules were causing problems.
It said some homes were considering reducing beds due to the shortages.
The problem has caused a bed shortage at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, with about 30 people in hospital who should be cared for in the community.
Nick Trott, from CI Healthcare, explained the issue was not unique to Guernsey, with the industry struggling to find staff across the UK and Europe.
He said his group would be willing to build and invest to expand their homes if they had the staff.
image captionThe issues have had a knock-on effect causing bed shortages at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital
However, Mr Trott argued they had the "additional hoop to jump through" of the island's housing licensing system, which also created problems in recruitment.
He said: "We're doing everything we can to encourage staff, but they're just not there.
"Some of the homes... are even considering reducing their bed stock in line with the amount of staff they can find."
'Gold dust carers'
Issues with recruitment have been exacerbated by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, President of the Committee for Employment and Social Security Peter Roffey said.
He explained the committee had previously invested in expanding care capacity, but it was "only one part of the picture".
Deputy Roffey said: "You can invest all you like, if you can't attract the staff... that is a problem.
"We need to be treating carers like gold dust, because I don't think we have given them the status or priority that we should have done over the last 20 years."