Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care launched an open consultation seeking your views on making vaccination a condition of deployment in older adult care homes, to protect the people most at risk in our communities. The consultation remains open until Friday 21 May 2021. Many of you have contributed, but we still need many more views to help us make the best informed judgment possible for care home staff and residents.
"This last year has been incredibly challenging. The top priorities have been to save lives, protect the most vulnerable people in our society and safeguard the NHS but it has meant our contact with family and friends has been significantly limited - something that many of us, myself included, have found difficult.
"Older care home residents are among those groups identified as at greatest risk, so we have taken a very cautious and clinically led approach to social contact in these settings." Dr Jenny Harries OBE, our Deputy Chief Medical Officer, explains more about the approach.
"When the pandemic first hit... everyone’s lives changed. It felt scary, especially so for staff in our care homes who provide 24 hour support to people with learning disabilities. In an effort to help everyone understand what coronavirus was, we got creative. Using arts and crafts we made signs to remind everyone to wash their hands and keep to social distancing rules. Making the residents a part of the process helped them understand the rules."
Across the UK, Lifeways employs almost 11,000 colleagues supporting nearly 5,000 adults with diverse and complex needs, across a variety of community settings, including our supported living services and residential homes. The COVID-19 pandemic means getting things right has never been more important for many thousands of people.
Homecare workers have demonstrated outstanding commitment, compassion and selflessness throughout the pandemic and have enabled around 850,000 older and disabled people to live safely and well at home. Vaccination of the 715,000 strong homecare workforce and the people they support is vital to protect their health and wellbeing. The more vaccines given, the more lives saved, so time is of the essence.
"I run a domiciliary care service supporting children and adults with complex health needs in their own homes. As the Director and Registered Manager of Elite Care Solutions in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, it is part of my role to share information and updates with staff to help them make informed decisions about testing and whether or not to have the COVID-19 vaccination."
Louis Laleye is a physiotherapist at a Royal Star & Garter care home in High Wycombe. He caught COVID-19 in March 2020 and later took part in the antibody trial. He explains why he decided to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
The roll out of new vaccines has offered a ray of hope during this challenging time. Deborah Sturdy, our Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care is delighted so many care home staff and residents have now been offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Deborah emphasises just how vital it it that everyone who can take up the offer of vaccination does so when their turn comes. She received the first dose recently and will be taking up the second in the next few months.
Three effective COVID-19 vaccines are now approved for use in the UK. With their approval, and the rapid expansion of vaccination sites across the country, the national NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme is progressing at pace to reach the most vulnerable, working in line with the priorities set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). It is a testament to the importance of the work of health and social care staff that they have been prioritised by the JCVI to receive vaccination.
Clenton Farquharson's family have had many heated debates about the new COVID-19 vaccines and whether or not to take them. Clenton believes this is a common worry among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, fueled by misinformation and a shortfall in efforts to assuage concerns about safety. He writes for the Social Care blog now to counter these issues, encourage honest conversations and presents a short video demonstrating how getting a COVID-19 vaccination is no big deal at all.