Social Care staff in England will no longer be required in law to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as of 15th March 2021. Many care providers will have lost valued staff because of the ruling which came into force in November 2021, but which was revoked in parliament last month.
But what does that mean for social care providers and managers?
First as of the 15th March staff employed in social care settings will no longer need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, that is unless providers make it their policy to require it. Some providers will consider vaccination is a reasonable request to make of prospective staff, whose role it is to protect and promote the welfare of the people they care for, while many are relieved to be able to be able to offer employment to a wider pool of people.
Regardless of what one believes about this, manager need to ensure they follow the usual processes if they choose to re-employ staff dismissed under the Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment ruling, or indeed employ new staff. This includes ensuring, for example, mandatory training is up to date and that things like DBS checks, and where nurses are employed, NMC registrations are up to date.
There is little doubt that some staff returning to care will feel aggrieved at having been laid off during this period. Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, agrees with this sentiment and is on record as saying “Care homes have been the scapegoat”. This will mean that managers need to be alert to the additional support needs of staff returning to the sector after a period of unemployment or employment in other sectors. Key among the support strategies may be increasing the frequency of supervisions, as well as ensuring returners are not targeted by other staff who may feel they should have been vaccinated rather than leaving the sector short handed. Some staff will struggle to see their dismissal as anything other than personal and may require a lot of additional support, which in some cases may need to be arranged via occupational health and employee support schemes.
Only time will tell what impact the Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment ruling has had on the sector. What is certain, that many staff will be embittered by it for months to come, so managers while celebrating the return to work of valued staff members, will need to be remain vigilant about their support needs for some months to come.