Just under a third (32%) of home care staff in England have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to new data.
Publishing the findings of a snapshot survey, United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) said there is “clear evidence of strong willingness” on the part of most home care workers to be vaccinated.
However, it warned that there is “substantial variation” in vaccination rates within and between local authority areas.
The survey was conducted on January 27-29, with 379 home care providers responding. It covered 111 (74%) of the 151 Upper Tier authorities with responsibility for adult social care in England.
The sample represents employers of 27,210 home care workers, the majority (95%) of whom were in organisations mostly delivering ‘hourly’ or ‘visiting’ home care. The remaining 5% were working for ‘live-in’ home care providers.
Commenting on the findings, UKHCA chief executive Dr Jane Townson said: “Given the numbers of staff involved and the extremely short period for these workers to obtain vaccination, it is to the immense credit of everyone concerned, including local government, central government, the NHS, GPs, primary care networks and employers that this has been achieved.”
But Dr Townson warned that while some local areas vaccinated members of the workforce even before the official Standard Operating Procedure was published, a proportion of providers have still not heard anything from their local council.
She said: “This is extremely frustrating for care workers and their employers, particularly as it is now nearly three weeks since the Standard Operating Procedure for roll-out of vaccinations to community-based careworkers was published.”
The survey also showed that live-in care services face additional challenges to obtain vaccinations for staff. UKHCA said this is because care workers are typically working with clients in a different local authority area from where their employers’ office is based.
Based on this data, the organisation warned that meeting the government’s target of offering a first COVID-19 vaccine dose to everyone in the JCVI’s top four priority groups by February 15 could be a challenge.
Skills for Care estimates there to be 715,000 jobs in home care compared with 680,000 in care homes, so the home care workforce is larger than the care home workforce and harder to reach because care workers are dispersed in their communities.
Dr Townson said this means that effective communication between councils, employers and the workforce, as well as efficient organisation and logistics, is paramount.
UKHCA is calling on all local authorities in England with responsibility for adult social care to:
- Contact all eligible providers of domiciliary care in their area without further delay;
- Publish contact details for their vaccination teams on their websites in a place which is easy for providers to find;
- Produce a national list of contacts for each authority in England which is available in the public domain.
Information correct as of February 2, 2021.