Carers are to be banned from working in more than one home to halt Covid spread after claim outbreaks in first lockdown were fueled by staff employed at multiple sites
- Government understood to be drawing up laws to make staff movement illegal
- ONS found care homes with agency staff had higher Covid rates than others
- But some care home bosses said legislation could force them out of business
Carers are to be banned from working in more than one home after claims outbreaks in the first lockdown were fueled by staff employed at multiple sites.
The Government is understood to be drawing up legislation to make it illegal for care homes to employ staff who work at multiple sites.
A study by the Office for National Statistics showed that care homes that used agency staff in the first wave had higher rates of Covid than others.
The Government is understood to be drawing up legislation to make it illegal for care homes to employ staff who work at multiple sites. File pic
But some care home bosses told the Daily Telegraph they would be stuck ‘between a rock and a hard place’ if the practice was banned.
They said some homes would struggle to abide by the new law and properly care for residents and may need close entirely because of staff shortages.
Caroline Abrahams, a charity director at Age UK, said: ‘There is a massive level of vacancies within social care – 112,000 – and a horrifying 30 per cent annual rate of churn, so the challenge is how they can provide good care in a way that is consistent with infection control.
‘Consider the impact too of having staff members needing to self-isolate because, say, a family member contracts the virus, and you can see how hard it is for care homes to remain adequately staffed.’
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission, was asked about the plan on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.
She replied: ‘I think it’s critical to reduce as much as possible staff moving between different homes to it’s essential that people are not doing that.
‘We’re working with Government to think about what our role as the regulator could be in ensuring that happens.’
In May, the Government produced guidelines stating that care home staff and agency workers should only work in one care home ‘wherever possible’.
The planned legislation comes as the Government prepares for a second wave of coronavirus, with a surge in over 65s being admitted to intensive care across the country.
A recent study by Imperial College London found an eight-fold increase in Covid cases among the over-65s compared with September.
Under the planned legislation, care homes would reportedly be expected to ask workers to sign ‘exclusive’ contracts, banning them from working at more than one site. The legislation could be introduced within weeks.
Care homes that fail to comply with the regulations would face warning notices from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and ultimately the threat of closure or withdrawal of funding.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Stopping staff movement in and between care settings is critical to minimise the risk of infection of COVID-19, and our Adult Social Care Winter Plan, backed by an extra £546 million, is clear that providers should limit all staff movement unless absolutely necessary.
‘We have said that limitations on staff movement will be enforced through regulations and we will come forward with detailed proposals in due course.’
More than 20,000 care home residents are thought to have died from COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic.