Care homes across the UK are facing a winter staffing crisis driven by the post-Brexit staff exodus and vaccine hesitancy among remaining staff, coupled with the government’s requirement that all care home staff must be fully vaccinated by November 11 to continue working in registered homes in England.
As the health secretary, Sajid Javid, urged care workers to book their jabs in time to meet the deadline, the Independent Care Group said operators could be forced to hand back contracts to councils or close care homes and relocate residents because of a staffing crisis. It is leading calls for retired nurses, doctors, carers, to be trained and DBS-checked to fill vacancies in case of a feared “winter meltdown” in staff numbers.
A government consultation last month calculated that in a worst-case scenario as many as 68,000 care workers – up to 12% – could be lost as a result of the decision to make vaccination a condition of employment in care homes. A more likely prediction is 40,000, but care managers say that even small numbers of people refusing the vaccine will impact services because rotas are already threadbare, with well over 100,000 job vacancies already unfilled in the sector.
A recent of care home managers by the Institute of Health and Social Care Management found 58% of operators believed they would have to lay off at least some staff by 11 November based on current rates of vaccination. More than a quarter (28%) of the 681 care operators who responded said they had already lost up to five staff. Three said they had lost more than 20 each.
Job adverts seeking new staff sometimes produce no applicants for posts that are highly demanding but pay on average just £8.50 an hour, operators told The Guardian. Meanwhile, post-Brexit restrictions mean care providers can no longer recruit low-waged staff from the EU – around 113,000 EU workers could be found in UK care homes pre-January 2020.
Image courtesy Pixabay.