We are working to ensure that the government’s vaccination programme continues to prioritise all forms of supported housing, both for residents and staff, and works in the best way possible for housing associations.
We worked with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and successfully made the case for all public-facing housing association staff to be considered as part of the Phase 2 vaccination prioritisation process.
Below we’ve summarised the latest information on the vaccination programme that’s relevant to housing associations.
- Vaccinations for homeless people or rough sleepers: On 11 March, the government announced that local teams could offer vaccinations to people in their area who are homeless or rough sleepers. These people were given priority alongside cohort six in Phase 1 of the vaccine deployment programme. The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that local teams take a ‘pragmatic approach’ to the dosing schedule considering the likelihood of follow up for these groups. Housing associations should contact their local teams to discuss how this can work most effectively.
- Vaccinations in wider settings: On 13 April, the JCVI confirmed that the best way to protect individuals working in jobs with potentially higher risk of exposure to coronavirus was to use an age-based programme because it is simple to deliver. Every person in the UK over the age of 18 is now eligible for a vaccine, as was planned for Phase 2 of the vaccination programme.
- Resources and guidance: Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care have set up a campaign resource centre and produced information on the vaccine that will be useful to providers needing to prepare staff and residents for receiving the vaccine, including guidance, leaflets and consent forms. The Royal Society for Public Health are also offering a Level 2 Award in Encouraging Vaccination Uptake which may be of use for housing associations.
- Compulsory vaccinations: On 16 June, the government announced that vaccinations will be compulsory for staff working in all care homes in England registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This means that, from 11 November, all staff directly employed by a care home or employed through an agency (including volunteers) will need to be fully vaccinated with both doses as a condition of deployment, unless they have a medical exemption. More details on the implications of this decision can be found in our update. We are working with the government to feed back on the implications of this decision for housing associations.
- Booster vaccines: We are monitoring what happens with the booster programme. More details about booster vaccines for anyone aged 40 and over can be found on the government website. Please let us know if you are experiencing any problems with staff receiving the booster, or have any questions about the rollout.
New guidance on vaccinations for care home staff
The government has published operational guidelines on compulsory vaccinations for people working in care homes in England. The regulations will be in effect from 11 November 2021 and apply to all care homes in England registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). For those living in Scotland or Wales but working in England you must still show proof of vaccination or exemption.
Please note, on 9 September, the government announced a new consultation that seeks views on whether or not the government should extend the existing statutory requirement for those working or volunteering in a care home to be vaccinated against coronavirus to other health and care settings. It also covers whether to introduce a statutory requirement to be vaccinated against flu. Please see our dedicated webpage to find out more and to contribute your views to our response.
Key dates for the upcoming regulations:
- 22 July – grace period of 16 weeks begins.
- 16 September – last date for care home workers to get their first dose so they will be fully vaccinated by the time the regulations come into force.
- 11 November – regulations come into force.
Who is responsible for making sure staff are vaccinated?
From 11 November 2021, all registered persons (the person registered with the CQC as a manager or service provider) must ensure that they do not allow anyone to enter the inside of a care home, unless they have had a complete course of doses of an authorised vaccine or fall into one of the exempted groups.
While other members of staff acting under instruction of the registered person can carry out checks, registered persons are ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements. The registered person (or those acting on behalf of the registered person) at the care home is responsible for verifying the identity of the person entering the care home and their proof of vaccination and it will be up to them to identify the most appropriate procedures to check vaccination status.
What’s in the guidelines?
- A summary of the regulations.
- Guidance on exemptions for urgent maintenance work and considerations for visiting professionals, such as clauses in service contracts.
- Demonstrating evidence of vaccination.
- Recording vaccination or exemption status exemptions and other measures to risk transmission.
- Guidance on redeployment and fair dismissal.
- Recruiting new staff and volunteers under the new regulations.
- Explaining the regulations when making arrangements for visits.
- The role of the Care Quality Commission.
- How to encourage vaccine uptake amongst staff.
- Guidance on reporting concerns about staffing levels.
- Responsibilities of local authorities.
- Guidance for staff, guidance for visiting professionals, residents, relatives and friends of residents.
Read the operational guidelines.
If you would like to find out more about testing, either for your residents or staff, please have a look at our dedicated resource.
Collecting vaccine information
Vaccine status is personal data which cannot be shared without consent because of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) principles. If your organisation is collecting vaccine status data, it is important to understand if this is being done officially or informally through everyday interactions, and why.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has useful information which can be used to remind housing associations of on what lawful basis they can process individuals’ coronavirus vaccination status and disclose it. The reasons for recording individuals’ vaccination status must be clear and necessary. If they cannot be specified, you are unlikely to be able to justify collecting, processing or disclosing it. Please also see the government’s guide to information sharing in relation to safeguarding for reference.