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10th November 2021

A statement on the vaccine deadline for care home staff

The programme to vaccinate those working in care homes has been a success. By working together in close partnership, local government, the NHS and care homes have managed to vaccinate more carers than expected given the demographic make-up of the workforce.

While some of the residential care workforce are not yet vaccinated, this is only one factor contributing to longstanding staffing shortages in the sector. We expect that the overwhelming majority of care homes will be able to cope with any immediate impact on staffing, but a short delay to Thursday’s deadline for making vaccination a condition of deployment in older adult care homes would be helpful to further increase vaccine uptake among carers.

The latest statistics[1] show that more than nine in 10 staff in older adult care homes have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine (436,406, or 94.5%), while nearly 90% have received a second dose (412,815, 89.4%).

Workforce data[2] shows that one in five members of the social care workforce are Black, Asian or from another ethnic minority – a higher proportion than in the overall population of England, in which one in seven are Black, Asian or another ethnic minority. Black staff in particular comprise 12% of the adult social care workforce, compared to 3% of the overall population. And given around one in five (21%) Black or Black British adults have reported vaccine hesitancy, compared with 4% of White adults[3], the vaccine programme for care home staff must be considered a success.

Paul Najsarek, Solace spokesperson for Health & Social Care, said: “Councils working closely with their health partners and care homes have done an excellent job to vaccinate the vast majority of staff in adult care homes and help keep residents and workers safe.

“While we do not anticipate any widespread issues with sudden staffing shortages resulting from making vaccination a condition of deployment, a short delay to Thursday’s deadline to bring it in line with the NHS and help push those numbers up even further would be welcome.

“The workforce crisis in care settings is a long-standing issue and one that unfortunately the Government’s recent announcements will not solve. Resolving recruitment and retention issues will require sustained investment in pay, better terms and conditions, as well as developing career frameworks to help create a thriving pipeline of staff and future leaders. That is why Solace is calling for a workforce strategy for local government so we can better address the myriad capacity and capability challenges facing not just social care but other parts of the local public sector too.”

[1] Covid-19 Vaccination Statistics, 4 November 2021

[2] The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, Skills for Care, October 2020

[3] Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights: Vaccines, Office for National Statistics, 9 November 2021