Proportion of East Sussex care home staff still not fully vaccinated

A proportion of staff working in East Sussex care homes have yet to be fully vaccinated, causing ‘incredible anxiety’ in the sector.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 2:19 pm
Covid vaccine

Yesterday (Thursday September 16) was the last day people could have their first jab in order to be fully vaccinated against Covid by the government mandated deadline of November 11.

A total of 86 per cent of care home staff in East Sussex have received both vaccines as of yesterday, according to East Sussex County Council officers.

The feedback from providers both nationally and locally was of a ‘pretty exhausted’ workforce, with critical issues around recruitment and retention of the workforce.

A number of care staff were leaving to work in other sectors, with Amazon warehouses being one example given, due to the pressures faced supporting people with increasingly complex care needs.

Supply is outstripping demand for home care, and while they are continuing to advertise locally, a number of large providers are looking overseas with a particular focus on Albania and Romania.

The issues were raised at a county council people scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday.

Officers reported that providers are ‘incredibly anxious’ about the number of care home staff not fully vaccinated.

One to one sessions have been organised with health professionals to talk through any concerns that staff might have and this had led to some deciding to get the vaccine.

A small percentage are medically exempt and can continue to work in care homes.

However this still leaves a ‘group of staff who are adamant they will not be having the vaccinations’.

But providers are talking to the county council about the impact this will have on ‘quite pressured critical staffing levels’. Nursing homes are ‘particularly flagging’ as a number of qualified nurses have chosen not to have the vaccination and are indicating they will be leaving the profession.

These are national problems and not just limited to East Sussex.

Mark Stainton, director of adult social care, said when it came to directly provided services, as of last Friday there are currently only two staff members who have not had their first vaccination.

Wendy Maples (Green, Lewes) raised the low rates of pay in the care sector and asked why they could not recruit domestically instead of having to look overseas.

Mr Stainton said they have a high level of employment locally and there was competition posed by the hospitality industry, but there was also no getting away from the fact that jobs in care are ‘hard work’. He described how they were continuing to try to encourage and incentivise people to pay a fair rate and improve terms and conditions.

Charles Clark (Ind, Bexhill East) said: “We need to make more of an effort in our schools and colleges to sell to students a possible career in adult social care or the care industry so long term we have got an increased number of new people coming on board who will work in that industry.”