Hundreds set to leave care home roles in Hertfordshire, rather than have vaccine
Adult care bosses say there should not be any change to the level of service offered to care home residents
More than 300 carers look set to leave their care home roles in Hertfordshire, rather than have the Covid-19 vaccine.
New government rules mean that from November 11 staff will no longer be allowed to work in care homes unless they have had two doses of the vaccine or have a medical exemption.
And in order to meet that deadline they would have had to have had the first dose by September 16.
In Hertfordshire the vast majority of the 10,380 care home staff in the county have had the vaccine – many who were amongst the first in Hertfordshire.
But, according to the county council, there are still 348 care home workers who have ‘declined’ to have the vaccine – who will no longer be allowed to work in care homes.
In addition there are more than 175 staff who have had their first dose of the vaccine within the past two weeks.
And that means they won’t be double-vaccinated by the November 11 deadline – so will have to remain absent temporarily too.
Adult care bosses at the county council – who are already working with care providers – say there should not be any change to the level of service offered to care home residents, as a result.
And they stress that vaccination rates amongst staff in Hertfordshire are slightly higher than the national average.
However they are also promoting an ongoing recruitment drive for care workers, in partnership with the Herts Care Provider Association.
Speaking directly to the LDRS, director of adult care services Chris Badger says the county council has been encouraging staff to have the vaccine – with some success.
Webinars, fact sheets and personal visits from NHS colleagues have all been made available to help care home staff address their concerns.
But while he continues to want as many staff as possible to take the vaccine, he says it was always ‘unrealistic’ to expect that all staff would have the jab.
And accepting vaccination has to be a personal choice, he stresses he does not underestimate how difficult the decision has been for some staff.
“I believe very strongly in the vaccine,” he said. “But I also understand that people have those personal choices.”
In making the case for the vaccine, Mr Badger points to the ‘transformative’ impact vaccination has already had on outbreaks in care homes in the county, where 97 per cent of residents have had the jab.
And he says it has “absolutely saved lives”.
“My primary concern is always the welfare of people receiving care in Hertfordshire,” he said.
“And it is really good news that vaccines are having a massive impact in terms of constraining outbreaks in care homes. We are really seeing very low rates of infections in care homes.”
And he is keen both to acknowledge those ‘heroic’ care staff who have worked through the pandemic – and to inspire others to join the care profession.
The ongoing ‘Hertfordshire Good Care’ recruitment campaign puts the spotlight on the real experiences of local people working in care.
And it is designed to both highlight the importance of care roles and to encourage others to consider a move to the care profession.
“We have seen over the last 18 months how heroic care workers have been, their values and compassion and how hard they work,” said Mr Badger. “And I want to make a big plug for working in care.”
Care workers, says Mr Badger, build up really special relationships with the people they work with, often who are older or who have learning disabilities – based on compassion and mutual respect and empathy.
And he says it can be a ‘hugely rewarding career’, with opportunities within Hertfordshire to build a career and develop – whether working with people with learning disabilities, older people, care homes or home care.
In addition he says the county council has invested heavily in inflation-busting pay rises for care staff, in a bid to ensure they are paid in excess of the national living wage.
“People talk about never a dull day and also a bit of humour with service users and care staff,” he said.
Meanwhile those existing care home staff who decline to have the vaccine may be redeployed to a role within their existing companies that doesn’t include front-facing care.
Or alternatively they could move to a setting where vaccination is not currently mandatory, such as in domiciliary care.
Anyone interested in a career as a care worker in Hertfordshire can find more information at www.hertsgoodcare.com or by calling 01707 536020 (option 3).