Should the COVID vaccine be made mandatory in Adult Social Care?
As we await the confirmed decision on mandatory vaccinations for care staff, there is lots of talk as to whether this is the right approach.
The consultation that was launched on this matter, to collate responses and opinions on the proposal, is due to close very soon (following an already extended deadline). Although a final decision has yet to be made, a verdict in favour of the proposal could have a significant impact on the sector specifically causing legal and recruitment challenges.
The National Care Forum recently conducted a survey to help inform their consultation response on the matter. Their findings discovered very clearly divided views. While some respondents stated “the staff have a responsibility to protect the people they support” others said “we do not think mandating the vaccination is necessary and believe staff through gentle persuasion and educated discussion, can be encouraged to take up the vaccine”. The survey concluded that while some respondents fully supported this policy and felt this was the right thing to do; for others, they felt it is fundamentally not the right approach and is a step too far.
By some, the professional duty of care argument has been made, even though the dedication and commitment of care staff especially during the pandemic has been second to none. Some think that it is time to back up the call for professionalism with real action to invest in social care and provide professional recognition to the care workforce. Encouragement to take the vaccine would be much more reasonable to frontline staff if it were accompanied by a proper package of recognition for their commitment and dedication to the work they do.
Summary of the National Care Forum’s survey results:
- 70% of respondents said a compulsory vaccine would be difficult to implement (1/5 said it would be extremely difficult)
- Respondents said keeping track of this would be challenging and a clear mechanism for evidencing vaccinations needs to be created
- 23% of respondents think more than 10% of their care staff would leave if the vaccine became mandatory
- 65% of respondents think that only care staff working in care settings with service users aged 65+ years should not be singled out
- 80% of respondents thought their staff would feel unfairly treated if the policy only applied to those working in older adult care homes
- 76% of respondents felt this policy should be applied to health professionals as well as social care professionals
- 77% of respondents said that already 75% of their care staff are already vaccinated; while 47% have more than 85% current vaccination rates
The consultation is due to close on the 26th May 2021 and it is important for everyone in adult social care to respond to this consultation, to ensure a balanced viewpoint. Even though the proposed legislation is currently only aimed at services who support adults aged 65 and over only, this consultation will still be interested in hearing views from everyone across the adult social care sector. Especially due to factors such as the aging learning disability population meaning a larger number of care services are likely to be affected by the proposed legislation.
It is also still a very real possibility that this legislation could be rolled out sector wide, should the verdict be in favour of the proposal, so it is very important that everyone is prepared.
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