Live-in care provider Elder has reported that two thirds of its customers would feel uncomfortable being looked after by an unvaccinated carer, or having an unvaccinated carer look after a loved one.
The survey follows months of debate on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for care home employees. New legislation is now expected to roll out in October – giving all staff working at CQC registered care homes 16 weeks to get the vaccine.
In response, over 71,000 health and social care professionals have signed a petition to Parliament, stating they should be given the right to exercise free will in regards to vaccinations, and that being unable to refuse for fear of discriminatory action is unjust.
Whilst many care homes are reporting a positive uptake in vaccinations, some are warning that the UK could now be heading towards a mass exodus of staff.
Elder saw a significant rise in customer enquiries into live-in care arrangements amid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, families were looking to move loved ones back home from residential care, given the risk of transmission. With new concerns over staffing levels in care homes, enquiries are once again expected to rise.
According to the Office of National Statistics, by 11th March 2021, 90.2% of adults in England aged 70 years and over had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, to protect those who are still vulnerable, Elder says that vaccinations among all eligible age groups are an important step in controlling infection.
Helene Cross, Head of Care at Elder said: “Social care workers are more likely to be exposed to the virus, and unfortunately, being healthy doesn’t reduce the risk of catching it and passing it on to others.
“It’s important to remember that you can have COVID-19 without symptoms – and therefore still feel well, which of course increases the potential of passing it on to friends, families, and the people in your care.”
Leaders in social care have previously described the government’s move to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for care staff as a “kick in the teeth” for the sector.
Speaking at the Future of Care conference in June, provider bosses said the move is “regrettable” and expressed concerns that staff would leave the sector and take up a job in the NHS if they are forced to get the vaccine.