People working in care homes required to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated
The care and nursing home sector delivers a crucial service, supporting those who need residential or nursing care in a place other than their own home. Nursing and residential care homes should provide their residents with compassionate care in a safe environment where staff know their residents and residents know the staff; where residents feel comfortable, safe and are well cared for.
It has recently been announced that future legislation will soon require care home staff to have COVID-19 vaccinations to enable a safer environment for residents.
This would mean care home providers would only be able to deploy staff who have been vaccinated – unless they are exempt for medical reasons. When looking for a nursing or care home, enquiring about this policy, understanding how its being followed may be useful for relatives.
The Government announced recently that they will bring forward regulations to make COVID-19 vaccination a condition of deployment for any individual working in a CQC-regulated care home providing nursing or personal care in England.
We believe that these plans, which are yet to go through Parliament, could affect individuals taking part in local Healthwatch Enter and View activity in care homes.
The regulations will apply to individuals working in a CQC-regulated care home in England providing nursing or personal care, subject to certain exemptions.
Who does this apply to
The regulations will require care home providers to deploy only staff who have received a complete course of their COVID-19 vaccination in line with government guidance, unless they are medically exempt. They will apply to all workers employed directly by the care home or care home provider (on a full-time or part-time basis), those employed by an agency and deployed by the care home, and volunteers deployed in the care home.
It will include those providing direct care and those coming into care homes to do other work, for example healthcare workers, tradespeople, CQC inspector and hairdressers and beauticians.
The regulations will not apply to:
- Anyone who has a medical reason that means they cannot have a vaccination
- Family and friends visiting a care home resident
- Essential Care Givers
- Any person providing emergency assistance
- Anyone undertaking urgent maintenance work
- Any person under the age of 18.
How will the regulations be enforced?
Any staff or visiting professionals entering a care home would need to provide evidence of their vaccination or exemption status. The Government is working with NHSX to explore the use of the NHS App for demonstrating vaccination status, with web-based and non-digital alternatives provided for people who do not have access to a smartphone.
We are also working on a simple process to allow people to prove their exemption status. Service providers would need to ensure that they have a process of demonstrating to CQC that they are compliant with the regulations. Further details will be outlined in guidance in due course.
What is the timeline?
Regulations will be laid before Parliament at the earliest opportunity. If approved by Parliament, there will be a minimum of a 16-week grace period from when the regulations are made to when they come into force to enable staff who haven’t been vaccinated to take up the vaccine.
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