Implementation of the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy in care homes has led to a ‘loss of trust and goodwill’ among staff and their employers.
Responses to a National Care Forum survey of its not-for-profit members showed providers feared they would lose around 8% of their care home staff because of the policy. A breakdown showed 3.5% had already left as a result of resignation or dismissal, and a further 4.4% might yet leave before today’s deadline (11 November).
Its survey conducted between 2-8 November received responses from members that support more than 11,000 people, operate approximately 300 services and employ 14,000 staff.
However, the forum said the true cost of mandating vaccination was the loss of long serving experienced staff, more pressure on operators to find enough workers to provide high quality, consistent support at a time when recruitment and retention are increasingly difficult, and more requests to discharge people from hospital into care homes not being met.
More than half (53%) of respondents have incurred additional costs for specialist legal advice on how to implement the policy, while 58% have had to run disciplinary hearings and 40% manage appeals.
Vic Rayner, National Care Forum chief executive, said: ‘Our survey shows that the true cost of implementing this policy has been very high. It has absorbed a huge amount of time and energy of staff, which could have been better devoted to recruitment and the well-being of existing staff; it has instead had to focus on working through dismissal procedures.’
Nine in ten respondents said they had required additional HR time and 93% had to run additional one-to-one sessions for staff to talk them through the policy and its implications, with 74% providing whole team briefings for their workforce.
Rayner added: ‘Since the introduction of this policy we have been vocal about the unnecessary high cost – in terms of human costs, financial costs and the loss in trust and goodwill amongst care staff and their employers as a direct result of this policy.
‘Care homes have been the unwitting guinea pigs through the implementation of this policy, and the impact on people must not be swept under the carpet. It is vital that the government learns from this experience and makes changes for the wider roll out of this policy.’