Social workers going into care homes must be vaccinated against Covid, government decides

All workers in CQC-registered homes, whether based there or visiting as part of their duties, will have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19

Woman receiving Covid-19 vaccine from nurse
Photo: Halfpoint/Adobe Stock

Every social worker whose duties require them to enter an adult care home will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19, unless they are medically exempt, the government has announced.

The requirement means best interests assessors, practitioners undertaking care reviews or those visiting care homes as part of safeguarding enquiries will have to have had both doses of the vaccine, as will all care home staff and others visiting homes as part of their professional duties, except in emergencies.

The policy – which will come into force following a 16-week grace period after the relevant regulations gain parliamentary approval – has been criticised by provider and union leaders for risking loading further staffing pressures onto social care.

It is an expansion of that put forward in a government consultation on the compulsory vaccination of care home staff, as it will apply to Care Quality Commission-regulated homes for working age adults as well as older people.

The Social Care Working Group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has determined that an uptake rate of 80% in staff and 90% in residents for a single dose will provide a minimal level of protection to residents.

Vaccine uptake

Across England as a whole, 65% of homes are currently reaching the minimum level of staff uptake – though in London it is just 44% – and over 1.2m social care workers have been vaccinated, 78% of those entitled to a jab.

The government has also announced it will carry out a further consultation on whether to make having had a Covid-19 and flu vaccination a condition of deployment in health and care settings more generally.

The 16-week grace period after parliamentary approval is designed to to enable those not yet vaccinated to be so. The government has said a majority of social care staff will be eligible for their second dose eight weeks after their first. People cannot be vaccinated within 28 days of having Covid-19.

Visiting family and friends, under-18s, emergency services and those undertaking urgent maintenance work will be exempt from the requirement.

A vaccination equalities committee, led by NHS England and Improvement, with representatives of the Association of Directors of Public Health, local authorities, fire and police services and third sector organisations, will advise and guide the vaccine deployment programme on addressing inequalities in the vaccine roll out.

The government will be delivering targeted support to increase vaccinations among care home staff in areas with a low level of vaccine uptake.

‘Sledgehammer approach’

The government received over 13,500 responses to the consultation and said there was “significant support” for broadening the policy to include all coming into close contact with care residents.

However, the policy drew a critical response from some provider and union leaders.

Vic Rayner, chief executive officer of the National Care Forum, said it would cause care homes significant implementation challenges by “encompassing almost everyone who crosses the care home threshold”.

She described it as “a logistical nightmare for care homes who will find themselves legally responsible for checking and verifying the vaccination status or exemption of people whom they have no employment or personnel oversight”.

Rayner warned that unless more detail and support were provided rapidly, “there are real risks of creating further staffing pressures and unwittingly placing managers in the role of bouncer as they try to operate an unworkable vaccination door policy”.

Christine McAnea, general secretary of Unison, agreed that the policy risked deepening staffing pressures in adult social care. She said: “The government’s sledgehammer approach now runs the risk that some care staff may simply walk away from an already understaffed, undervalued and underpaid sector.”

She added: “The NHS has been successfully vaccinating the public and its own staff for more than six months. There’s no reason to change this successful approach.”

However, Pete Calveley, chief executive officer of Barchester, which has over 200 care homes in the UK, said he supported the policy, based on its experience of mandating vaccinations among its staff since February.

He said: “We have carried out extensive engagement programmes with staff, as well as 1-1 support to encourage this…“As a result we are seeing strong uptake and positive engagement with Covid-19 vaccination, and we are delighted that the outcome is that 99% of our staff are willing to have the vaccine.”

38 Responses to Social workers going into care homes must be vaccinated against Covid, government decides

  1. Anonymous June 18, 2021 at 6:55 am #

    It’s no surprise that a right wing authoritarian government would think to do this. This approach could destroy our social care system altogether.

    As someone who is pro vaccination, Im also for the right to choose what goes on our body. People will have to have the vaccine in order to earn a living in areas with high unemployment rates.

    Like it isn’t hard enough… FFS

    • Jo June 18, 2021 at 3:09 pm #

      totally agree with you. this is dangerous ground. I think this is wrong on all levels and it should not be allowed to happen. I work in domestic abuse and this is control and coercion; if this was a DA case there would be a law to convict and serve custodial sentence for the perp

    • Lives Matter June 21, 2021 at 8:06 pm #

      Won’t somebody please think about the residents? Thankfully the government has the guts to do this even if staff won’t. Shameful

      • Anonymous June 23, 2021 at 9:32 pm #

        Residents rights are being considered and upheld. They can be vaccinated if they want to be and choose not to be if they don’t want it. Care staff should be given the same rights.

        • Alice June 24, 2021 at 9:39 pm #

          Except care staff choose to work with vulnerable residents. Residents don’t choose who works in their home.

          • Karen.L. July 3, 2021 at 11:41 am #

            Thing is…if care staff walk from a job they love because of mandatory vaccinations, there will inevitably be a bigger shortage of staff, which in turn will impact greatly on the lives of those in care settings. Ultimately, it could mean some homes having to shut.
            Maybe some will have to return to their families?
            These are very sad times

      • Anon July 2, 2021 at 6:36 am #

        Hi

        Full PPE, following government guidlines policies and procedures in infection control etc is working,

        Its highly uncomfortable for carers especially in the heat and unhealthy to be wearing masks for a length of time however we do it to protect our residence!!
        , let alone thinking about our environment as a lot of plastic aprons etc are used in a day.

        People should not be made to have vaccinations on top of all that!!

        • Anon July 9, 2021 at 3:16 pm #

          Hmmm….very, very few residents in care homes have the choice to be there and as a nurse with kin in a care home wonder how many care staff ensured that full consent was given when residents were jabbed? Or, referred to the MCA at all? How did their right to choice matter?

          Rights arent absolute. Care homes – often funded by the state – have put in draconian measures to deny residents rights to see or associate with visitors. Or go outside. Forced isolation if have to attend a hospital even.

          NOT because the law stated – in fact very early on case law was clear blanket policies are unlawful- but to protect staff. Who, of course like us, had woeful ppe and lost lives because . But care homes main driver for the cruelty now imposed ( and yes, it is cruel) is so not legally liable for employees litigating as most cant get insured.

          The ONLY way round this is for ALL staff and visitors to be jabbed because lets face it the govt isnt going to idemnify and because public opinion votes in govt. Like it or not.

          And I dont see why my vulnerable kin should be treated so cruelly for a second longer so staff can exercise right to choice .

          Care home staff, like NHS staff, have had 18 mnths to get better informed or consider a different line of work. And before someone says why doesn’t it apply to NHS staff, it does and has for at least 35 yrs. We are required to be jabbed against certain community transmittable infections or show immunity.

          If we want to work with those more vulnerable than ourselves then we accept that denying basic human rights is not ok because some in the social care sector think their rights not to be jabbed override others right to life.

  2. Alita June 18, 2021 at 8:40 am #

    Staggering that there can be any objections to provider agencies having knowledge about the health status of their employees and contractors and visitors. Strange that there has never been civil liberties objections to Hepatitis inoculations but a much more pervasive and life threatening disease becomes a matter of “choice”. Employees have all sorts of clauses in our contracts and restrictions in our work autonomy. Just get on with it. Can’t blame Matt Hancock for care home Covid deaths but then get outraged that staff should pose no danger to residents, others and themselves on supposed personal “reasons.” It’s actually racist to say to the general population get vaccinated and then use the ethnic profile of care staff as a reason to object to them getting vaccinated. I have family in Sierra Leone who are desperate to get vaccinated and last time I saw them they still were not white. Please don’t allow anti-vaxxers to endanger all of our health by validating their spirious racism arguments. They don’t stack up on this issue.

    • Michelle June 18, 2021 at 2:45 pm #

      The care sector is struggling enough, why make matters worse?

      I am also disgusted to read articles that think it is appropriate to highlight which demographics have the least vaccine take up. There will be a huge number of reasons as to why people are not yet vaccinated, and I can guarantee that not a single one of those reasons is simply because somebody is black. We don’t need xenophobic pitchfork pointing, we need open conversations without judgement so we can provide the correct information and reassurance. Heavy handed tactics to threaten people’s ability to work is really arrogant and narrowsighted.

  3. Celia Hopkins June 18, 2021 at 2:24 pm #

    I’m not anti vax – i’ve been vaccinated – but will defend the right of anyone to have control over their own medical management including medical interventions such as vaccines. there are other options to assist ( PPE etc0 and if the vulnerable residents have been vaccinated they are to a large degree protected. Even with the vaccine there is no guarantee – so this is a dangerous precedent that need further risk evaluation that I haven’t seen provided of other adverse impacts. i don’t believe this is an ethnicity issue – that’s a distraction to the point – there will be many young women and men who will have concerns about their future health. As always this will discriminate against the poorer members of the care workforce, and also potentially against women and people who hold personal beliefs. Its no good saying if you don’t like it get another job – i could say if you don’t like the care home employing unvaccinated staff move your relative to one that doesn’t – see just as ridiculous.

    If they roll it out to the NHS – i will be interested to see what they do when the nurses and surgeons / consultants refuse to have it – are they going to sack them also – then as a wider public will we have the say about our choice who treats us? They wont enforce it on this higher paid professional group – if they do then we are seeing the dismantling of the welfare state for an unbalanced risk assessed populist policy.

    If a care worker or social worker is already claiming support to pay their rent and find themselves unemployed we in this professions should all acknowledge the ripple effect on this policy – our mental heath, homelessness and impact on child poverty and care cases.

    Persuasion is always more successful than coercion.

    I close by encouraging all those who can to get the vaccine – but will respect your informed choice to refuse.

    • Michelle June 21, 2021 at 7:05 am #

      I am scared to have the vaccine because I feel I am being bullied into it. I would like to decide in time if I am ready or not, but now I am being told by my manager to either have it or lose a job I love and been doing for 20years. I can’t sleep not knowing how i will manage to pay bills etc. I feel anxious all the time. Just don’t know what to do 😔

      • Fruity Loopy June 21, 2021 at 4:58 pm #

        I know: Get the vaccine then you’ll get to keep your job and not pose a threat to others who perhaps are unable to have the vaccine due to their underlying health problems. You can then sleep at night and not feel anxious all the time.

      • Jo June 22, 2021 at 10:49 am #

        you should have autonomy over your own body and not feel coerced into having a medical procedure in order to keep your job. This is going to be a real issue for the care sector as many people will choose to leave and find alternative employment, rather than be pressured into having an injection with no long term safety data. It is a horrible situation to be in and I really hope you find a solution that you are comfortable with.

      • Sasha June 25, 2021 at 11:22 am #

        Are you in a union? Also https://www.hart group.org/covid-19-evidence/ and your human rights: https://legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/22/section/45E hope it helps x

        • Sasha June 25, 2021 at 4:50 pm #

          https://www.bihr.org.uk/covid-19-vaccine-human-rights-staff-guide

          Sorry, posted the wrong link above and the other one didn’t work!!

          This link will be updated in due course but discusses the rights to refuse the vaccine under HRA and equalities act of it becomes compulsory.

        • Sally June 25, 2021 at 11:18 pm #

          Being asked to prevent harm while being paid to care for others is not a breach of human rights. Being asked to comply with a request you object to as an unpaid volunteer is a breach of human rights. Having a job where you are not required to protect the health and wellbeing of others is the human right you have to sell your labour to an employer of your choosing. Rejecting a vaccine because of a video 4 people made in their garden shed after their mate Dave met a bloke in the pub whose top scientist brother has “proven” is unsafe, is?

    • Anon July 9, 2021 at 3:27 pm #

      Sorry, but you are ill informed. We in the NHS have been forced to be immunised for many illnesses or we dont get the job. Since it’s inception. Those same ppl ypuve just knocked.

      Did you speak up for the rights of care home residents to be informed ,out of interest? Thousands will have had the jab with NO lawful consent but no one thought their rights worthy of protection.

      Public health is called that for a reason. I too prefer personalised medicine but live in the real world where we rely on some controls. Right to a job NEVER overrides the human and health rights of vulnerable people who the govt of any political sway has a duty to protect.

      Have silo mentality then better have the private income to buy privatised health and care. Most of us dont so want the protection . Next time you get treated by the NHS maybe ponder on the fact that staff treating you gave up their rights so you too could be protected.

  4. Anon June 18, 2021 at 3:08 pm #

    What a slippery slope! An emotive subject for sure but where is the line drawn when we start to impose mandatory vaccinations for people already performing the job and exclaiming ‘don’t like it get another job!, never mind the fact it is still technically in trial phase until 2023. I believe carrot over stick, engage in dialogue don’t force people’s hands.
    Is BASW going to lead any consultations around this…probably not!

  5. Fred Smith June 18, 2021 at 5:19 pm #

    Assume same rules for GPs, Nurses, OTs, Physios, Hairdressers, CPNs……….or is it just Social Workers?

  6. Pete June 19, 2021 at 6:41 am #

    More coercion by govt think they are hoping to nudge as many through threats and fear into vaccinating in next few months -if their decision is legally sound why the delay until new year?? Health unions sleeping at wheel on this also they need to be arranging strike action before autumn to avert further crisis when care staff leave underpayed and undervalued jobs. Will Hancock and Whitty be willing to step up and don mask gloves and aprons to take over care of elderly and vulnerable as result if their actions? I respect rights of others to get vaccines if they wish but do not buy the lie that these vaccines stop transmission they only reduce symptoms for recipients. We are being taken hostage by big pharmacy and where is the magic money tree paying for furlough and everything else to do with this so called pandemic? Does govt have money to pay compensation and defending legal challenges against planned breaches of human rights and Nuremberg code? This will be criminal assault and legally treated as such. Pete

  7. Cyril June 19, 2021 at 7:33 pm #

    My daughter is an A&E junior doctor. She is required to be inoculated against communicable diseases. This has always been the case for doctors and nurses. I am not sure why Covid vaccinations are suddenly an assault on personal choice and liberty. We all comply with edicts we don’t agree with in daily life. Any civically responsible person complies to protect the general community as well as themselves.Would you want a cook to prepare good for you if they objected to washing their hands after using the toilet because they claim soap and water inflames their sensitive skin? Didn’t think so.

    • Anon July 9, 2021 at 3:29 pm #

      Thank you.
      Easy to forget NHS staff have always sacrificed rights to choose jabs so rest of us can be protected. No jab, no job.

  8. Kieran June 20, 2021 at 8:03 am #

    Astonishing and worrying comments. “Vaccine lies”, “so called pandemic”, “breaches of human rights”, “criminal assault “. Big pharma cons you into taking all sorts of medicines on spurious grounds all the time really though doesn’t it? Owns a chunk of homeopathy manufacturing too. There is no “informed choice” in refing the vaccine, it’s the eqivulant of arguing nettle soup is a cure for cancer. “Further risk assrsdments” when close to 150,000 people have died as a response is just mind blowingly complacent. All sorts of conditions apply to all sorts of jobs including medical fitness to carry out tasks including social work. Thats why we have equality legislation pertaining to health and disability so we are not forces to do work that endangers us and others. Whatever tinge of liberty and choice is spun here the underlying arguments are anti-vaccine and Covid denial. I am in a team where 2 social workers constantly harangue us about how this is a conspiracy against the cutuzen by Gates and Soros and part of the “Great Reset” for population control and promotion of cashless transactions for future wage suppression. Get protected, protect others and if you think that is a gross violation of your liberty, that it offends your religious and spiritual beliefs, now that is an unproven and unprovable “trial phase” of all time, then stop claiming from the public purse, become your own employer or indeed ” get another job.” Actually there is a business opportunity staring all you libertarians and sceptics: become a care provider that doesn’t require vaccinated staff, no health checks on visitors or contractors, all welcome. Have the idea for free.

  9. Har June 22, 2021 at 5:25 pm #

    Its concerning that health decisions are being made by the government for adults who are more then capable of deciding themselves. As a social worker we assess someone’s capacity for decisions like this, but for the government to suggest we are incapable of making our own decisions and them deciding on our behalf is completely unacceptable.

    I wonder if any law firms will appeal this as this goes against the humans right act. Forcing someone to do something for work sounds like cohesion to me. Maybe I should raise a safeguarding against the government.

    • Anon July 9, 2021 at 3:35 pm #

      You do realise that NHS staff are already jabbed against many communicable diseases and are required to be to have the job?

      What planet do social workers live on that you dont know this? Silo mentality to the max. And sorry but where were all the BIAs when care home residents being jabbed? On site assessing capacity to consent ? Referring to tne CoP? No.

      Public health is about protecting ALL of us.

  10. Carter June 22, 2021 at 11:41 pm #

    The Government, whose job is to protect the whole community, is giving you a choice. The Governmet is not coercing you. You can choose to follow medical advice so you work safely in a care setting or you can choose to ignore medical advice in which case you are told you can’t work safely in a care setting.The Government isn’t stopping you working in a non-care setting if you refuse vaccination. You might not like the option you are being offered but you are not being coerced. There are always consequences to the choices we make. You might choose to put your hand in scalding water contrary to health and safety advice but that advice does not contravene the human rights act.

  11. Refusenik June 24, 2021 at 12:34 pm #

    There is nothing in SWE regulations that requires any social worker to have an inoculation before we are registered. Good luck to any employer who can prove they have such a clause in my contract. I have refused the flu jab and I am refusing the ‘covid’ one too.

  12. Wilson July 1, 2021 at 5:22 pm #

    I objected to being given an iPhone as I refuse to buy Apple products because of their exploitation of child labourers. My manager told me that having the phone was part of the departments health and safety measures and refusing would potentially mean breaching a clause in my contract to ensure I adhere to safe working practices. Guess what? I am using that phone as I don’t want to lose my job. We compromise at work all the time or we leave. Nothing different here about vaccination. You have a choice so use it if you are bothered about being ‘forced’ into something you don’t like.

  13. Carol July 1, 2021 at 5:29 pm #

    Those of you who are so keen on your own human rights being respected: how about respecting the human rights of the people you “care” for from a potentially deadly infection. Be brave and tell us why your rights matter more than the rights of others.

  14. Annoymous July 4, 2021 at 10:55 am #

    The whole point of the vaccine is to protect those who want it, so allow those who want it to get it and leave those who don’t alone. This is an experimental vaccine where the pharmaceutical companies are projected. A systematic review can take 18 months to learn about the outcomes and the scientist are still learning about the long-term effects on a person health. I prefer to continue wearing PPE rather than have an advice effect as an individual by participating.

  15. Jamie July 4, 2021 at 6:16 pm #

    I have been a socialworker for many years and I’m gobsmacked that this is a forum for a profession I hold so dear and that some of these personal beliefs are from social works. A profession which is a complex mix of risks,empowerment, choice and personal sovereignty

    I think comparing using an iPhone on the grounds of child labour to being coerced into having a vaccine still in the experimental stage due it being passed on an emergency order, with zero long term studies conducted, are world’s apart.

    We can all agree vaccines are part of the solution. But only a part of it. And it will also take time.

    As I see it this issue should be approached like we approach the vast majority of social work- assessing the balance of risk. For those clinically vulnerable and for others who are agreeable to be vaccinated this is their choice; albeit a choice which is without adhering to the principles of informed consent- What are the benefits vs the risks? and What are the alternative?

    We know Ivermectin in particular is well tested and has very little to no side effects. At this stage It would be appear the least restrictive option for many, wouldn’t you agree?

    We don’t yet know the long term studies of these vaccines, we can’t possibly! Short term trials do not end until 2023. Under typical circumstances vaccines would take between 6- 10 years to study, but we have not had that luxury. The rMRNA vaccine in particular is new so please see recent research by the inventor of the rMRNA Dr R. Malone.

    We certainly need to protect those people that fall under our duty of care and almost all residents have now been vaccinated. But what about the wellbeing of the workforce? Seemingly another forgotten component when working for a local authority and the NHS!
    What about their choice, spiritually, philosophically or otherwise or does that not matter?

    The virus can still be carried whether staff are vaccinated or not. Staff can still agree to be test, wear appropriate PPE, take ivermectin, wash hands and take all precautions. Remember the resident will be protected from their vaccine.

    Coercion and misinformation on this level goes against the core principles which all social workers hold as an ideal in our professional practice. We all have a duty to speak up and be supportive of others informed choices.

    I’m shocked that this is the way the profession I love is going.

    • Alice July 4, 2021 at 9:13 pm #

      Please help me unravel your argument Jamie. You say aggreeing to be vaccinated is based on uninformed consent yet as a social worker who has thought about this, you have no concerns that residents have been vaccinated? Close to 150000 people have died having been infected. What do you think the numbers would be after 6-10 years of your approved trial period? Unless of course you think the figures are made up. Genuine questions.

  16. Neil July 4, 2021 at 8:47 pm #

    Bit rich a social worker talking about coercion when the vast majority of mental.health and child protection interventions are anything but consensual. And if you are concerned about vaccines without “proper” trials than your confidence in Invermerctin is misplaced as its not yet approved for Covid-19 treatment here as it is undergoing trials right this minute. Trouble with anti-vaxx moralising is that just like “spiritual” beliefs, it relies on faith rather than evidence. Last time I asked not one social worker had a degree in virology. I trust the likes of my daughter who far from being motivated by parricide spent months in a lab to work on a vaccine to save the lives and prevent harm to people she will never meet. I think I am confident about who has the information and who indulges in misinformation on this issue.

  17. Jen July 4, 2021 at 9:03 pm #

    Nothing is world’s apart if everything is about individual choice Jamie.

  18. Craig July 4, 2021 at 11:05 pm #

    Saying triling a vaccine for 6-10 years before use in a pandemic is really saying thousands of people dying in the meantime is a price worth paying. If you want a cost benefit analysis Brazil is the template. Funny how the championing of Sweden has gone quite by the advocates of herd immunity now that more people have died of covid infections there than the rest of Scandinavia put together. I can make a philosophical and religious argument against polio, rubella, malaria, yellow fever, hpv and all vaccines but that would be just as irresponsible as the objections on moral grounds to this vaccine. All vaccines are administered to healthy people, prevention is their purpose. If anti-vaxxers understood medical science they wouldn’t need to hide behind spurious human rights outrage.

  19. Suze July 5, 2021 at 12:02 am #

    We also have a duty to speak up when others make ill informed choices. It’s called working with evidence. A core function of social work I think.

  20. Karl July 6, 2021 at 11:02 am #

    But I’ve seen loads of people on Telegram with magnets sticking to their arms after they had the jab. If nothing else that shows that we don’t know the long term side effects of the vaccine. I also saw that weekly Vitamin D3 injections prevent getting Covid. Back in the real world Dr Robert Malone cites himself as the evidence source for “inventing” mRNA technology. His argument is about transmission through nano particles which actually is not how this virus causes damage to lungs. There is nothing more to.add that hasn’t been eloquently said already but really it’s very simple. Get vaccinated, be safe, keep job, prevent harm to residents. No masks, no social distancing, minimal PPE from 19th July. How do you propose safe care without the vaccine now?