The Homecare Association is lobbying the government to develop a credible contingency plan for how care will be provided if staff shortages are exacerbated by the vaccine mandate next year.
The appeal comes after a survey conducted by the association found that more than three quarters (76%) of providers in England believe vaccination a condition of employment would decrease their ability to recruit staff.
The government announced in November that it will make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for frontline home care and NHS staff from April 1, 2022.
While the Homecare Association supports vaccination, it says it has advocated for a persuasive approach to increasing uptake and is concerned that the legislative approach being taken could lead to a loss of up to a fifth of the home care workforce.
An estimated 78% of the workforce have received two doses of the COVID vaccine, as of December 15.
The Homecare Association has also discovered a deepening crisis of workforce capacity through its poll on 339 home care providers across the UK.
The majority (98%) of respondents said in November that recruitment was harder than before the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 95% who stated this in August, with 85% saying that recruitment was the “hardest it has ever been”, compared to 78% in August.
Three quarters (75%) of home care providers said that more care workers were leaving their jobs than before the pandemic, compared to 65% in the previous survey, including 43% who said that more care workers were leaving than ever before, compared to 29% in August.
The Homecare Association is now urging the government to develop a contingency plan for how care will be provided if staffing shortages are exacerbated in April 2022.
It says the government should also fund social care adequately so that home care workers are paid fairly for the skilled roles they perform, and at least on a par with equivalent public sector roles.
And it wants care workers to be added to the Shortage Occupation List, as recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee.