High numbers of care home staff have been vaccinated say Kirklees health bosses
High numbers of care home staff in Kirklees have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with health bosses committing to a proactive recruitment campaign to fill any gaps.
They say the local sector has lost around 200 workers who chose not to have a jab ahead of today’s government rule mandating all care workers in adult care homes, except those with a medical exemption, must be double vaccinated against coronavirus.
That figure is described as “not insignificant”.
However the take-up of jabs is high with 96% of staff in the independent sector having had a first vaccination and 92% having had both.
Health bosses say GPs have been crucial in assuaging fears, particularly among younger care workers who have concerns about future pregnancies. They say the doctors’ involvement has “demystified” those issues.
What’s more they are in the midst of a proactive recruitment drive.
There are 131 care homes across Kirklees offering around 3,500 beds. The care sector in the borough employs just over 4,000 people.
Kirklees Council’s Head of Commissioning Partnerships and Market Development, Simon Baker, acknowledges that the 20-month pandemic has been “very, very difficult”.
He says bed occupancy in care homes has “dipped” to an average of 80% partly due to deaths among the elderly but also because families have chosen not to put their loved ones into care
However he says demand is expected to “rebound” to pre-pandemic levels.
He says: “There are at least 200 people less working in care homes across the sector because of [the compulsory vaccination ruling].
“That’s not insignificant but the take-up has been good and we aren’t as worried as we thought we would be.
“We’ve been working very hard with providers and their staff to give out positive messages around vaccination. So we have been proactive in working across the sector to meet that challenge.”
He also accepts that pay parity across local areas is a factor in some people not wanting to join the care sector.
“We are finding that domiciliary care agencies are having to find workers from an ever-decreasing pool because other industries coming out of Covid are paying a lot more.
“It is difficult sometimes to compete with those organisations especially when you can get paid maybe £15 an hour to pack boxes.
“We are doing a lot to attract people but it’s also about retaining [people] and looking at key terms and conditions.”