Mitch Miller, managing director of live-in care company ENA
After a very dark and difficult time for the whole of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the welcome reports that the UK had reached its initial vaccination target provided some much needed good news.
However, this has been tempered for everyone in social care by the admission on February 15 that a third of care staff had not yet received their first jab.
Here at ENA, we joined together with other live-in care providers to contribute to an article, published by the Guardian, that highlighted the challenges we are facing.
Our data, compiled across 12 live-in care companies employing 6,000 to 8,000 staff, showed that as of 10 February, 4,000 to 5,500 live-in carers – nearly 70% of carers – had not received their first vaccine shot.
Why has vaccinating live-in carers proved problematic?
ENA supports live-in care clients throughout the UK and, as such, many of our carers are living with their clients many miles away from their own homes for long periods of time. This means that we’ve encountered issues with vaccinations since December that include:
- Access to a carer’s own GP is limited. The online booking system has allowed carers to book locally to their home address, but sometimes not for a location close to where they are working.
- Many GP surgeries with whom our clients are registered will not accept any responsibility for vaccinating our client’s live-in carer.
- Some of our workers are not registered with a GP. This is often because the UK is not their permanent home, but they travel here to work for several months. Without GP registration a carer will not have an NHS number.
- The logistics of getting our carers to our head office so that they can attend our allocated vaccination centre means huge disruption for our clients. The carer being vaccinated then has to travel, often on public transport (which increases the risk of infection), and may need to stay overnight locally if the placement is too far to return the same day.
Why is vaccinating our carers important to ENA?
Having a healthy frontline care workforce is vital to all social care providers to enable us to support our clients to the very best of our ability. The nature of ENA live-in care, with one carer per client for up to 12 weeks at a time and rigorous infection control procedures, has meant that COVID-19 infection rates amongst our staff and clients are extremely low in comparison with other types of social care provision.
Of course, everyone has their own personal opinions regarding vaccination, but we feel privileged to be recognised as important enough to receive COVID-19 vaccinations within the first phase.