COVID-19 and senior living: what approach should you take with staff to increase vaccinations?

01 February 2021

The development and rolling out of the COVID-19 vaccines is a chink of light in otherwise supremely challenging times - particularly for social care and senior living businesses.

At the end of 2020, there were reports of up to half of care staff polled were reluctant to have the vaccine. The numbers appear to have fallen as more information about the vaccine has been shared and more people have had it, boosting confidence. For those who aren't keen or willing to have the vaccine, where does that leave businesses in managing COVID-19 employment and health & safety risks? What approach should you take with staff to increase vaccinations?



Practical points to consider:

  • As an employer you have a duty to protect, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of your staff and others (like residents and visitors) who may be affected by your business.
  • Context is highly relevant. Which staff / job applicants face / pose the highest risk of passing on or contracting COVID-19? This is likely to be care and supported living staff in daily contact with residents or service users and those who are vulnerable for personal health reasons, rather than office or maintenance staff.
  • For these priority groups, do you know why they don't want to be vaccinated? There may be clear objective reasons (potentially covered by the Equality Act 2010), or it may be anxiety about the risks to them of having the vaccine, or its effectiveness. Find out, to inform your approach.
  • For the latter group, how can you encourage staff to have the vaccine? You may decide to take a different approach for prospective / temporary staff and staff already working. Share guidance and materials for them to consider, consult and listen.
  • What can you do to accommodate those who cannot have the vaccine?
  • Consider re-setting your requirements for new recruits and make vaccination a condition - this could be justified.

Please do get in touch if you would like pragmatic advice on balancing COVID-19 risks.


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