01 Nov 2021
by The Homecare Association

Up to a quarter of the homecare workforce could be lost if vaccination becomes a condition of deployment

Three quarters of homecare providers believe they would lose between 0-24% of their workforce if vaccination becomes a condition of deployment, according to latest research from the Homecare Association. Responses were received from 150 homecare providers across all regions of England, who provide care to 27,000 people and employ 33,500 staff.

Almost a quarter of homecare providers surveyed thought they would lose over 25% of their staff who provide care to older and disabled people in their own homes. 

Over 90% thought it was certain or likely that recruitment will become harder if this comes into force and over 80% thought it was likely they would need to dismiss staff as a result.

Of those reporting that they would lose 25% or more of their workforce, all regions of England were represented (except the South West), with the North West, East of England and London strongly represented.

In a previous survey conducted by the Homecare Association, over three quarters of providers said that recruitment was the “hardest it has ever been”. Many have experienced a 75% reduction in job applications since January 2021.

Commenting on the survey, Homecare Association CEO Dr Jane Townson said: 

The Homecare Association strongly supports vaccination of the homecare workforce and we lobbied hard, right from the beginning, to ensure it was as easy as possible for homecare workers to access vaccinations.

Progress is being made and currently 83.2% of homecare workers have had the first dose of vaccine, and 73.7% the second dose. 

We understand that people who use services and their families expect careworkers to be vaccinated. Vaccination is also desirable to help protect the health and safety of careworkers themselves. We are, however, warning of a risk of losing a quarter of our workforce, at a time when demand is rising and recruitment and retention are harder than ever. This creates a serious risk that homecare will not be available for tens of thousands of older and disabled people who are wholly reliant on support. Who will care for them?

We feel it's very important to balance the mitigated risk of infection with the risk of unavailability of care at home for highly dependent older and disabled people. 

Vaccination is a key line of defence against serious illness but was only ever part of a wider set of infection prevention and control measures. During the first phase of COVID-19, when there was inadequate PPE, no routine testing and no vaccines, homecare workers kept people safe and deaths from COVID-19 of people at home were very much lower than those in care homes. Data suggest that vaccinated people may be able to spread the delta variant of COVID-19 as readily as unvaccinated people. Careworkers have thus continued to follow guidelines on PPE, regular testing, ventilation, cleaning and other IPC measures. 

Our belief is that persuasion will be more effective than compulsion at encouraging vaccination of those with genuine fears, without losing vital workforce capacity.


Notes for Editors

  1. We had responses from 150 providers across England, who provide care to almost 27,000 people and employ 33,500 staff. This included a mix of providers who served the state funded part of the market and those who primarily served the self-funded market. The survey responses were received between 8th and 15th Oct 2021. See our blog for further details.
  2. The Homecare Association (formerly United Kingdom Homecare Association, UKHCA) is the UK’s membership body for homecare providers, with over 2,340 members nationally. The Homecare Association’s mission is to work together to ensure that homecare is valued, so that all of us can live well at home and flourish within our communities. The Homecare Association takes the lead in shaping homecare, in collaboration with partners across the care sector, and provides hands-on support and practical tools for its members. As a member-led professional association, the Homecare Association's members agree to abide by the Association's Code of Practice.
  3. For further information please contact: Homecare Association Ltd, Sutton Business Centre, Restmor Way, Wallington, SM6 7AH. Telephone: 020 8661 8165. Mobile: 07393 012 113. www.homecareassociation.org.uk