When was the consultation launched?
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) conducted a consultation about the requirement for people deployed to care homes to be vaccinated from 14 April to 26 May 2021.
What was the outcome of the consultation for care homes?
The outcome of the government consultation on the mandatory vaccination of staff deployed to care homes was published on 16 June 2021.
The outcome requires all registered CQC registered care homes (nursing and residential) to only allow entry to the care home, to people who can demonstrate evidence of having a complete course of an authorised Covid 19 vaccination.
For the avoidance of doubt:
The proposal includes any deployed care home staff member and volunteer, regardless of their role in the care home
The proposal includes any professional visiting the care home, for example social care staff, hairdressers and tradespeople entering the building
The proposal excludes any person exempt from vaccination on medical grounds.
The proposal currently excludes professionals such as tradespeople who will only be working outdoors / not entering the indoor premises
The proposal currently excludes family and friends visiting care home relatives, including essential care givers
The proposal currently excludes people aged under 18 years old
The proposal currently excludes emergency services
The DHSC published a statement of impact, to support the outcome of the consultation.
On 2 September 2021, DHSC issued a further letter (PDF, 35 KB) on preparing for vaccinations in autumn and winter 2021. The letter includes information on Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters as well as flu vaccinations.
CQC published a statement on the changes to regulations.
Why do people deployed to care homes have to be vaccinated?
The independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) Social Care Working group highlighted that care homes had been particularly impacted by Covid 19, due to a combination of a heightened risk of severe outcomes following Covid 19 infection and the risk of outbreaks in ‘closed settings’ (individuals with daily contact with one another typically results in greater levels of transmission).
Vaccination of both residents and staff is an essential public health intervention, for a serious vaccine preventable disease.
Vaccination is now cited as making a crucial difference in reducing the number and severity of Covid 19 incidents in care homes, and most critically in saving lives.
Care homes typically accommodate our most vulnerable residents. A high number of care home residents have been vaccinated, however there a number who cannot be vaccinated and for some whom the vaccination may not be as effective, meaning care home residents continue to be at risk of Covid 19 and its potentially devastating impact.
What are the timescales for implementation?
The regulations were laid in Parliament on 22 June 2021 and were made on 22 July 2021. The timescales are:
- 22 July 2021 - 16 week grace period starts
- 16 September 2021 - Last date for care home workers to get their first dose so they are fully vaccinated by the time regulations come into force
- 11 November 2021 - Regulations come into force
Care homes should be encouraging staff to:
- Get their second dose before 11 November 2021
- Complete the relevant exemption process
What are the guidelines for implementation?
On 4 August 2021 DHSC published Coronavirus (Covid 19) vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes: operational guidance. This useful document includes:
The intended purpose and impact of the regulation
Who is impacted by the policy
How people can demonstrate their vaccination status (currently)
Guidance for different organisations and partners
Good employment practice, including Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and fair dismissal of staff who are not medically exempt from vaccination and choose not be to vaccinated
Where should I record resident and staff vaccination information?
Information about resident and staff vaccination should be recorded on the capacity tracker. This is used at a local and national level by a range of key stakeholders.
It is critical this information is updated regularly, as this information is used locally and nationally to target our support.
From Monday 11 October 2021, care homes will be required to record the number of staff who have completed the relevant temporary exemption process on capacity tracker.
Who is medically exempt from vaccination?
There are a range of circumstances in which an exemption may be granted which will reflect the Green Book on Immunisation against infectious disease (COVID-19: the green book, chapter 14a) and clinical advice from The Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
On 15 September 2021, the government announced the following temporary exemptions processes.
All temporary self-exemptions should be presented to care homes by 11 November 2021 at the latest.
The government confirmed the temporary exemptions process will last for 12 weeks after the permanent processes are launched.
On 30 September 2021, the government announced the permanent process for people deployed to care homes who are exempt from vaccination on medical grounds.
People who believe they are exempt from vaccination on medical grounds need to contact 119 to apply for an NHS Covid pass to prove their exemption status.
The current self-certification process for exemption on medical grounds (which still needs to be completed) will expire on 24 December 2021, meaning exemptions can only be verified using the NHS Covid pass.
What information, advice and guidance can I share with my staff and residents?
It is really important that people can access a range of reliable and trustworthy information, advice and guidance to help them make an informed decision about the Covid 19 vaccination.
Locally, our together we're better webpages contain lots of useful information on Covid 19, in a range of accessible formats, including:
The DHSC has produced a toolkit of resources tailored for the adult social care sector.
The operational guidance contains links to a number of government resources, including the vaccination guide for adults.
Information, advice and support for people of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding
We are receiving lots of questions and queries about if it is safe for women who are pregnant or considering getting pregnant and those who are breastfeeding to have the vaccination; there are also some concerns about the long term effect the vaccination may have on fertility.
Public Health England and NHS advice is whether you’re pregnant, think you might be, or you are trying for a baby, they encourage you to get vaccinated.
Since May 2021, 3 women had been admitted to hospital after having their first vaccine. In contrast, almost all (98%) pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 had not had their vaccination (**source NHS - accurate August 2021).
Information and resources can be found on our together we're better webpages;this includes a link to the NHS information and advice alongside a video from Sharon Wallace, Head of Midwifery from UHNM.
Birmingham and Solihull CCG's have recently shared a video on this topic.
The Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are also informative and accessible to all.
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust organised a Facebook live event on the Covid 19 vaccination, pregnancy and fertility.
Webinars and supporting resources
The DHSC have shared a link to the webinar hosted on 17 August 2021 about the operational guidance for care homes.
The care provider alliance have published the presentation and associated questions from their webinar hosted on 26 August 2021, about the implementation of the regulations for care homes.
Having a vaccine for coronavirus is a wordless story designed to help people think about the vaccine and the impact having the vaccine will have.
The Care Provider Alliance has shared a link to their webinar on care home HR issues associated with the mandate hosted on 16 September 2021.
How do I book a vaccination?
People can book their vaccination using the national booking system.
Together we're better contains details about the national booking system, local community vaccination sites and walk in vaccination sites, meaning people do not need to book.
What support is available?
If you are a care home and you need help and support, including:
- Connecting your care home with the local NHS for specialist support
- Reviewing your business continuity plan - including maintaining safe staffing levels and recruitment support
Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.
We have launched a new survey to help us better target our support; we will use the responses, combined with the information included in the capacity tracker, to contact home with low staff vaccination uptake which may impact on their ability to provide safe care and support in the future.
It is really important up to date information is recorded on the capacity tracker, to help focus local and national support.
Skills for care and Staffordshire's care market development team have a range of links and resources to support with staff recruitment, retention and training.
ACAS has dedicated webpages in response to the change in regulations.
Vaccination requirements for other health and social care settings
It is critical that users and staff in other social care settings are vaccinated too, to offer maximum protection.
On 9 September 2021 the government announced the launch of a 6 week consultation to consider extending vaccination requirements to other health and social care settings.
The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 22 October 2021. Please ensure you have your say!
The resources listed above can be used by other adult social care settings to support with helping staff to make an informed decision about getting vaccinated.
If you represent an adult social care setting and/or are employed by adult social care setting and you have a specific query, please email us at mailto:email@example.com