Should COVID-19 vaccines be mandatory for care home staff?

Yesterday, a senior minister urged that all care home staff in England should be vaccinated against COVID-19, and that this should be mandatory. 

This is currently being debated.

It is expected that care staff will be given 16 weeks to get their vaccination, face being redeployed away from face-to-face care, or risk losing their jobs. 

This move is expected to be announced by the government in the coming days.


Low vaccination uptake

There has been low uptake of the vaccination programme in some areas, particularly London.

It is of course essentials that we protect our vulnerable care home residents, and vaccinating the workforce will always be the most effective way. 

However, is it fair to enforce a vaccine on people who truly do not wish to receive it for their own personal reasons? 

Are they not free to make their own decision as everyone else is?


Care home staff have worked tirelessly under horrendous circumstances for the past 18 months. 

Being threatened with the sack will be a bitter pill to swallow.

If people did not truly care about those they look after they would not still be working in care homes now, having faced arguably one of the toughest periods ever.


Education over enforcement

As a nurse myself, still working in a care home, I believe a better way is to educate and encourage rather than threaten people and leave them with no choice but to leave.

We know that redeploying front line care staff to other roles is largely unrealistic, the care roles make up the largest part of the workforce and are always the hardest to fill. 

We have to remember that most care staff are paid the minimum wage, being a carer is hard work and the shifts are unsociable.


What incentive is there to be a carer?

There is a reliance as always on people's goodwill, and taking advantage of the fact that carers are exactly that, caring people, and they will take care of our vulnerable people because of this. 

If the government really wants to encourage people to consider taking the vaccine, why don't they offer a monetary incentive?

Something that will make people feel valued and appreciated for their sacrifice, rather than the 'thanks but no thanks, find a new job' approach. 


Putting the resident first

Any decisions that are made should always be in the best interests of our residents. 

Would they choose to lose their favourite carers who have looked after them for a long time, people who are excellent at their jobs, because of their choice not to receive the vaccine?


It is a difficult dilemma and there are no easy answers.

It would be interesting to hear other people's thoughts, so be sure to drop us a comment and join in the discussion.