From 11th November 2021, anyone working or volunteering in a care home will need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19), unless exempt. So how do you manage and communicate this with your staff? Here’s our guide.

Timeline

The grace period began on 22 July 2021 leading up to 16th September as the last date for care home workers to get their first dose (so that they are fully vaccinated by the date the rule comes into force.

Who should be vaccinated?

The government guidance says that it applies to anyone who is working or volunteering in a care home. In addition to care home staff, this also includes:

  • Health care professionals
  • CQC inspectors
  • Tradespeople
  • Hairdressers
  • Beauticians

Vaccinations can now be booked via the national booking hub.

The regulations do not extend to anyone who is visiting the grounds of the home (for example trades people or gardeners).

What about staff in emergency situations?

The current guidance states that in emergency situations, professionals will not have to show proof of vaccination. This could be for example where police or paramedics are required, or an engineer to fix a broken lift.

What evidence is required?

The onus is on the ‘registered person’ within the setting (the care home manager / owner) or employer of anyone whose role involves visiting care settings to check and comply.

The guidance sets out that in order to enter the setting, individuals must be able to demonstrate that they have completed the course of the COVID-19 vaccination (currently two doses in most types of the vaccine), unless they are exempt. This doesn’t currently extend to booster doses (as the regulations would need amending).

An individual vaccination card should not be accepted as proof. Instead there are three options to demonstrate a Covid pass:

The registered person must then keep a record of:

  • the vaccination / exemption status of staff and the date it was last checked.
  • The vaccination / exemption status of those entering the care home (unless exempt) and the date that the status was last checked.

The registered person isn’t required to check the reason for any medical exemptions, they should just note whether a staff member is exempt or not. Read our employers’ guide.

Does it apply when recruiting new staff?

The rules extend to any candidates entering the care home for a job interview, and the same process must be followed (unless they are exempt). If someone is intending to get vaccinated, but hasn’t, then the interview must take place remotely.

Therefore, the regulations also apply to any new staff recruited and proof will need to be shown and recorded. The government recommends that any potential staff are notified of the regulation in advance to ensure that they are eligible to work in the setting.

How to communicate the regulations to staff and partners

All care staff should have now been made aware of the regulations in order to comply by 11th November. However, the same process will apply to all potential new staff and other professionals who will be entering the premises. We would advise:

  • Formalising your checking process in a policy so that all current and future staff are aware.
  • Making all potential recruits aware of the regulations in job advertisements and before interviews commence.
  • Contacting all partner organisations (such as trades people or visiting professionals) to remind them of the regulations and the process you will be following.
  • Be mindful of GDPR and that all information processed is in line with data protection regulations.

Useful information for employers can also be found here, or get in touch if you would like some advice on managing this. The full government guidance is available here.