Guidance for the social care sector on Covid-19
This page contains links to selected information which may help homecare providers provide services during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
Guidance about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, as more is known about the virus, its transmission and measures to counter the spread. Please return to this page regularly and check you are using the latest update of the guidance concerned.
Listing of government guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19), updated frequently.
Listing of legislation and amending regulations: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/
Police guidance on enforcing rules on international travel, quarantine and self-isolation: COVID-19 restrictions
Symptoms and getting medical help
People who have a new continuous cough OR a high temperature (37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) OR a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), should get a COVID-19 test and stay at home until they get the result.
Use this online tool from the NHS to find out what to do if you, or somebody else, has a medical problem: NHS 111 Online - Get medical help.
Staying safe and managing infection
Shielding clinically extremely vulnerable people
The government has ended the requirement for centralised guidance for these groups following expert clinical advice.
NHS COVID-19 app - part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme.
National booking service: Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine
Work and leisure
Work and financial support This guidance covers England only.
NICE - COVID-19 rapid guideline NG 191 - Managing COVID-19
Staying safe and managing infection
Risk assessment and shielding the clinically extremely vulnerable
The government has ended the requirement for centralised guidance for these groups following expert clinical advice. Press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/shielding-programme-ends-for-most-vulnerable
UKHCA Resource: Risk Assessment Template (Members only)
PPE and face coverings
There is a current consultation on extending the provision of free PPE beyond March 2022:
Care Provider Alliance - List of commercial suppliers of PPE (scroll down to end).
See Information on COVID-19 vaccination and supporting take up, which includes support available for employers in encouraging take up in their workforce, at:
Careworkers in England can book a vaccination appointment through: The National Booking Service.
Eligibility for vaccination: Who can get the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine
Information supporting take-up:
Flu vaccination, which is encouraged alongside COVID-19 vaccination: Annual flu programme in England 2021-22
Flu vaccination guidance for social care workers
Pregnancy and fertility:
Side effects of vaccination:
COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting - collection of guidance.
Commissioning and social care funding
Social care provider resilience during COVID-19: guidance to commissioners. Shared guidance to local authority commissioners from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Local Government Association and the Care Provider Alliance (CPA), published 13 March 2020.
The Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) issued guidance to councils in England on the fee increases for the National Minimum Wage and COVID-19 on 9 April 2020.
A blog by Dr Jane Townson, CEO of UKHCA, highlighted the value of homecare and the urgent need for investment to prevent multiple provider failure. Read about Homecare in the time of coronavirus, published 26 April 2020: A case for urgent investment to prevent multiple provider failure.
Extension of Infection Control and Testing Fund to end March 2022, grant conditions awaited: Additional funding to help adult social care this winter - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Adult Social Care Infection Control and Testing Fund: round 3 - collection of guidance and grant condition documents relating to funding to end March 2022.
Multi-million pound fund to boost adult social care workforce - workforce retention and recruitment fund, announced on 21 October 2021, with funding to end March 2022.
Travel, visas and migration
Government Travel Advice This includes red and green list rules for entering England, and demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status to enter specific countries from England.
Health and social care staff can claim immigration health surcharge reimbursement. The scheme to exempt non-EEA nationals applying for a health and care visa to work in a health or social care setting, in an eligible occupation, from paying the immigration health surcharge is described here: IHS Reimbursement Scheme
Guidance, Steps to take following the death of a person who worked in adult social care in England. This includes bereavement resources for the social care workforce.
NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme for families of members of the workforce in England who sadly pass away as a result of contracting COVID-19 at work. Main page for the scheme, information re Wales.
Guidance around free-of-charge DBS applications and new fast-track Barred List check service, in response to COVID-19, Disclosure and Barring Service.
Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees advice from ACAS on sick pay, including for those who self-isolate on medical and non-medical advice.
Advice for businesses
Working safely and risk assessment
HSE guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Working Safely
Government guidance: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Testing in workplaces
Health and social care: Guidance for the social care sector on Covid-19
Other workplaces: Get coronavirus tests for your employees
Furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - CJRS)
Coronavirus Job Retention SchemeCollection of guidance. The scheme ended on 30 September 2021.
Equality and Human Rights Commission: Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employers, on selecting employees fairly for furlough or redundancy.
Financial support and tax
COVID-19: financial support for businesses, Collection of guidance.
Guidance - Check which expenses are taxable if your employee works from home due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Workforce, annual leave, SSP, apprenticeships
Guidance - Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak.
Schools and Education
The Department for Education's The Skills Toolkit online training courses help people furloughed or at home acquire new skills.
According to Capacity Tracker, in October 2021, 82% of the domiciliary care workforce had received their first vaccination, and 71% had received their second, with 17.8% of the workforce yet to be vaccinated. These figures are increasing all the time.
The London region had the lowest uptake for 1st dose vaccination at 74.3%, with 2nd dose vaccination at 53.6%, considerably lower than other regions. London has the largest unvaccinated domiciliary care workforce at around 25.7%, with the Midlands at 18.9%.
COVID-19 vaccination is saving lives. A study tracking more than 200,000 people found nearly every participant developed antibodies against the virus within two weeks of their second dose. Analysis suggests both Astra Zeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines reduce hospitalisation rate by 92-96%. The risk of side effects is tiny compared with risks from COVID-19 itself.
The Homecare Association is a strong supporter of vaccination. We remain keen to ensure that as many homecare workers as possible receive both COVID-19 and ‘flu vaccines, as there is good evidence these protect the recipient from serious illness.
To this end, we are working with colleagues in NHS England and others to try to persuade vaccine hesitant staff to accept vaccination voluntarily. For more, see Help for Social Care Employers from NHS England and local authorities below.
Vaccination as a condition of deployment in homecare
Following a consultation on making vaccination a condition of deployment (VCOD) for frontline workers in the NHS and community settings, including homecare, the Government announced on 9 November 2021 that full COVID-19 vaccination would become a requirement for staff with face to face contact with service users from 1 April 2022. COVID-19 boosters and flu vaccination are not included in these proposals.
The key points are:
- Staff working face to face with patients or service users will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to be deployed, unless they are exempt.
- Covid-19 boosters and flu vaccinations are not included in the policy scope.
- Once the regulations have been laid and approved in Parliament, there will be a 12-week grace period before the regulations come into force. Therefore, the policy is expected to come into force on 1 April 2022.
Government publish response to the Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment consultation
Mandatory vaccination for all of health and social care - The new rules explained, Matthew Wort of Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP
Vaccination as a condition of deployment in care homes
VCOD applied in residential settings from 11 November 2021 (see operational guidance, information on how exemptions will work and NHS COVID-Pass guidance).
The new VCOD measures have data protection compliance implications, which are discussed here: Vaccination as a condition of deployment in care homes and data protection
There is a collection of documents relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme at: COVID-19 vaccination programme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The collection includes guidance, training resources, consent forms and letters, leaflets, posters and resources. There are links to programme documents, like JCVI advice.
Leaflets, such as the COVID-19 vaccination: guide for adults are available in 23 languages, with easy-read and accessible formats.
There is information on who is eligible for the jab, side effects, ingredients of the jab and booking an appointment for a jab on the NHS website at:
The Care Provider Alliance maintains a list of information at: COVID-19 vaccination - Care Provider Alliance
There is information on COVID-19 vaccination, which is aimed at encouraging take-up and countering online disinformation.
Technical health information on COVID-19 vaccination and who should receive it:
COVID-19 vaccine communication materials:
- Public Health England Vaccine Communications Toolkit for Adult Social Care
- Shareable video explaining the benefits of the vaccine
Vaccine information in community languages:
These are video clips by NHS doctors, nurses and other frontline staff to reassure communities that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and have been independently tested to the highest standards. They are recorded in 18 languages by NHS staff in London and the aim is for the clips to be shared among friends, families, faith and community groups via text messages and social media. There is a downloadable script in English.
Questions and Answers on vaccination for health and social care stakeholders
These are Questions and Answers on vaccination (not official guidance), prepared by the Department of Health and Social Care for stakeholders. These are updated regularly and include action Government is taking on issues, like encouraging take up within BAME communities: DHSC's Questions and Answers on vaccination
Webinar – Your questions answered on the COVID-19 vaccine
This is a recording of a DHSC webinar for careworkers held in May 2021, featuring the former Vaccines Minister Nadim Zahawi. Professor Jonathan Van Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Nicki Kanani, GP and Deputy Lead of the COVID-19 Programme answer questions on topics such as side effects, and pregnancy and fertility.
Additional resources to address vaccine hesitancy
- NHSE/I series of animations and suggested information aimed at tackling disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and encouraging uptake among ethnic minority groups. The animations are available in 17 different languages available from the Campaign Resource Centre or watch on YouTube.
- Dr Ammalina Bakri Insta Live Q&A on vaccine hesitancy
- Young NHS volunteer explains why she now feels confident getting the vaccine
- NHS video: every vaccine gives us hope
- Main link on the NHS website for the public to find out more information about the vaccine
- NHS video: what is the vaccine and how does it work?
- SE London ICS video: Tyrick’s Story
- SE London ICS video: Olie and Kadi’s story
- Videos from Islington Council showing social care staff, and local community leaders talking about their views and experiences about getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
- Shareable video with comedian Jason Forbes challenging misconceptions.
- DCMS toolkit to tackle false and misleading information about the vaccine.
- Bridging the Gap - Supporting uptake for BABAC communities (registration needed).
Proof of medical exemption from vaccination:
There is a section in COVID-19: the green book, chapter 14a on pregnancy and fertility and COVID-19 vaccination and information at:
- COVID-19 vaccination: women of childbearing age, currently pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Guidance - Safety of COVID-19 vaccines when given in pregnancy
- COVID-19 vaccines, pregnancy and breastfeeding,
Department of Health and Social Care information states:
- Vaccination remains the best way to protect against the known risks of Covid-19 in pregnancy for both mother and baby, including admission to intensive care and premature birth.
- Research shows pregnant women are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 and 98 per cent of those in hospital due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Published data from mid-July show no pregnant woman who has had two doses of the vaccine was hospitalised from COVID-19 in the UK.
- Pregnant women are also more likely to have severe COVID-19 infection if they are overweight or obese. The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) recommend vaccination as one of the best defences against severe infection. The JCVI recommends Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as the preferred vaccines for pregnant women coming for their first dose.
- Advice for all women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding is here. If you are 40 or over, and are booking your COVID-19 vaccination on NBS you’ll be asked if you are pregnant. This is to make sure people who are pregnant are only shown appointments for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
- Here is a video from Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwife for NHS England and NHS Improvement.
- NHS England » NHS encourages pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccine
Sources of information include the British Fertility Society, Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
BFS & ARCS Covid-19 Vaccines & Fertility - updated FAQs - British Fertility SocietyAssociation of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists
The RCOG FAQs are here – Also on this page is a video from Prof Lucy Chappell about how the vaccine does not impact fertility.
There is a British Medical Journal article showing there is ‘no evidence that vaccines can affect fertility’.
Update on support for homecare employers - November 2021
The NHS is planning to target support at providers with more than 100 unvaccinated frontline staff, as identified by Capacity Tracker. These organisations will be contacted by the NHS vaccination deployment programme and are encouraged to take up the webinars and one-to-one conversations between individual staff and culturally and clinically appropriate professionals offered. Other providers who are concerned should contact their local authority vaccination lead and use the resources on increasing take up.
Our preferred solicitors, Anthony Collins have produced a short briefing on VCOD and are planning a free webinar for Homecare Association members, plus a toolkit to help employers implement VCOD, available for purchase.
Support from the NHS and local authorities to encourage vaccination take-up - October 2021
There are many online resources to help people understand the benefits of vaccination and to address frequently raised concerns.
However, these resources are not always enough to persuade those who have a variety of fears to proceed with vaccination.
From work with care homes, there is evidence that one-to-one or small group discussions with vaccine hesitant workers can help to dispel their concerns and lead to higher take up.
For this reason, Homecare Association has reached out to NHS England to ask for additional support for homecare providers with relatively high proportions of vaccine hesitant staff. Data from Capacity Tracker highlight particular challenges in places such as London and Birmingham but there are other areas facing difficulties too.
Senior leaders in NHS England have willingly engaged with us on this issue and ensured the cooperation of local public health teams and vaccination leads in local authority areas. They have identified the possibility of accessing infection control, inequality and local authority funding to support uptake of vaccinations.
NHS England have pledged to develop a national offer of support for homecare providers and have secured support from a number of clinicians from the COVID-19 vaccine programme across England.
To access support homecare providers will need to develop a clear case outlining their specific support requirements and funding requests which is underpinned by evidence. Homecare Association members should see our email alert of 8 October 2021 for further information or call the member helpline.
At the local level, support can be developed in partnership with local government, public health and Integrated Care System (ICS) leads. If you wish to enquire about local support with vaccine hesitancy you can find a list of contacts from the Local Government Association here.
We strongly encourage homecare providers to explore the options for one-to-one and small group discussions, and the help we have described above, including contacting their local vaccination lead to see what support they can offer.
The influenza vaccination programme is running alongside the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Careworkers are strongly encouraged to book a flu jab – see Flu vaccination guidance for social care workers.
Careworkers can book their own free flu vaccinations at Boots pharmacies, who assure us that there are sufficient supplies of vaccines available this year, unlike previous years: https://www.boots.com/online/pharmacy-services/winter-flu-jab-services
There is a joint communication campaign for winter vaccines (COVID-19 boosters and flu jab). Promotional resources are available from:
Support for frontline workers
CIPD webinar on supporting the mental health of frontline workers.
Coronavirus resources of the British Psychological Society for professionals and the public.
Support for the public, including young people
Every Mind Matters - simple tips for taking care of mental health.
ANXIETY UK helpline and resources Helpline open until 10.00 pm: 03444 775 774, Text Service: 07537 416 905.
Mental health at work
Health and Safety Executive information on stress at work, and carrying out a stress risk assessment
Check your business insurance to see if it includes a Stress Helpline for employees. Page 9 for those with a Towergate Insurance policy.
Developing a supportive and inclusive workplace culture
NICE are developing a guideline on Mental wellbeing at work which is due to be published in 2022. This will look at developing a supportive and inclusive workplace culture and in particular organisational support, individual support, support from employers for employees at risk of poor mental health and also include recommendations about local and regional strategies and plans.
In the meantime, NICE have shared links to resources likely to be referred to in the guideline which employers may find helpful:
- Voluntary reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing: a framework to support employers (for large employers)
- What Works Wellbeing’s workplace wellbeing questionnaire
- What Works wellbeing
- Business in the Community – Mental Health for Employers Toolkit
- Mind - Mental health at work
- Health and Safety executive – work-related stress and how to tackle it
- Department for Work and Pensions’ Access to Work mental health support service
- Workplace Wellbeing Charter
- Mindful Employer
- Mind’s workplace wellbeing index
- Health and Safety Executive Management Standards for work-related stress Mindful Employer
- What Works Wellbeing employee snapshot survey
- Public Health England’s course COVID-19: psychological first aid
- MIND’s guides to wellness action plans
- MIND’s Blue Light Programme
- Mental Health at Work website
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Wales: Wales wellbeing - sources of support
Scotland: NHS Inform - resources on mental health and well-being
Northern Ireland: Covid-19 App - resources on mental health
Caring for those recovering from Long Covid
Sickness, absence and return to work
The general response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been co-ordinated across the UK, with the governments of the devolved nations working closely with the UK Government.
As health and social care are responsibilities devolved to the respective governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, some guidance is individual to, or presented differently, by the nation concerned.
Guidance for the public
Welsh government Coronavirus guidance homepage.
Welsh Government: Health and Social Care Professionals: coronavirus, guidance and services
Public Health Wales: Guidance for Health and Social Care Professionals in Wales
Care Inspectorate Wales: Statements on Coronavirus
Clinically extremely vulnerable people and risk assessment
PPE and face coverings
Providers may also need to liaise with their local authorities in relation to accessing PPE and ensuring whether there is any additional guidance at local level.
Twice weekly routine lateral flow testing is available for homecare and providers should have received information about how to access this. Providers experiencing difficulties with accessing workforce testing should contact: [email protected]
Other information on testing is available from: Testing for coronavirus
Financial support and guidance on self-isolation includes:
Support for the care workforce
The Welsh Government have agreed two recognition payments to social care workers:
Social Care Wales are offering a digital Care Worker Card.
Social Care Wales have collected information and resources on health and well-being for Social Care workers. They have launched an Employee Assistance Scheme that can provide a range of support to social care staff (call 0333 2129 212, this is available 24/7).
The Welsh Government has agreed to a death in service payment for the families of NHS and social care staff in Wales. Press release dated 27 April 2020.
Commissioning and social care funding
The Welsh Government has allocated funding to local authorities to administer as a hardship fund in order to support social care providers through the coronavirus pandemic. This has included a £1 per hour temporary fee uplift for local authority or health board commissioned homecare providers.
Welsh government: Strategy and evidence: coronavirus (including control plans / alert levels)
Public Health Wales - Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Social Care Wales coronavirus guidance page.
Guidance for the public
COVID-19 - Information and guidance for social, community and residential care settings, version 1.8, published 16 April 2021.
Care Inspectorate - https://www.careinspectorate.com/index.php/covid-19
Resources on vaccination for social care employers and staff: COVID-19 vaccinations - COVID-19 - Public Health Scotland
Workforce and disclosure
Support for businesses
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance (main collection of guidance for business, healthcare, education and housing).
Government guidance for the public
Guidance and support, including face coverings.
HSC Public Health Agency, COVID-19: Information for the public
Northern Ireland Executive, Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and updates
Government guidance for health and social care professionals
HSC Public Health Agency, Guidance for domiciliary care providers in Northern Ireland - COVID-19
Domiciliary care workers in Northern Ireland and those employed by independent care agencies can book COVID vaccinations at Trust vaccination centres.
Online booking arrangements for domiciliary care workers registered with the NISCC.
Information on testing
HSC, Public Health Agency: Contact tracing FAQs
Keep up to date with COVID-19 developments:
- Read our email alerts for members
- Attend our webinar briefings for members