Mandatory vaccinations introduced by the government in November led to skilled care workers vacating care positions. Up to 20% of the homecare workforce equating to over 75,000 people were predicted to quit rather than have the jab.
Despite a U turn announced recently by Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary and confirmation that mandatory vaccinations have been scrapped, the pressure on care workers had already contributed to turnover rates in the social care sector, which stand at a startling 28.5%.
The prospect of mandatory vaccines in April would have made it challenging for Abbots Care with some staff opting to remain unvaccinated.
Camille Leavold (pictured above, left), Managing Director of Abbots Care, explained: “We are relieved to see the consultation on the mandatory vaccinations are now taking place and the government produces a more proportionate strategy which weighs up the risks and rewards of enforcing the vaccinations. Arguably, going without care because we have a depleted workforce is a greater risk to many older people in our communities.”
Abbots Care says it has shown support to the vaccination campaign with its management team’s approach to listen, understand and be empathetic to care workers fears and anxieties over the mandatory vaccine. Leavold explained how it was a carefully managed process involving meeting every single care worker who had reservations about vaccinations.
This has proven successful as 96% of the Abbots Care workforce has been vaccinated compared to 65.7% of staff in care homes across the UK. Leavold added: “We understand the risks of transmission to our vulnerable Service Users and staff teams and have successfully encouraged most staff to be vaccinated voluntarily.”
Abbots Care has also launched its Wellbeing App to help improve staff wellbeing and mental health. The Abbots Careteam noticed that its care workers were struggling over the lockdown because of periods of isolation and uncertainty. The app is designed to support and help care workers’ mental health.
Leavold said: “It has boosted morale knowing that there is a tool that is not only for work but helpful for thoughts and feelings from our personal life too.”
Retention and recruitment in the home care sector is significantly tougher now than before the pandemic, says Leavold, who expressed how critical it is to have strategies in place to retain staff including clear career pathways, qualification, and training. Abbots Care has been rated outstanding for a second year by CQC despite a challenging year with Covid-19. After such a difficult year for the home care sector, Abbots Care is dedicated to boosting employee retention in 2022.
Leavold concluded by offering the following tips to improve employee retention in 2022:
- Incentives for staff retention including rewards and progression pathway for staff in their roles.
- Correct staff training to ensure that staff are qualified.
- Weekly meetings/surveys to check in with staff members.
- Good rotas to ensure staff have enough time to work with their service users and that they have enough travel in between.
- Rota clinics – in Camille’s recent experience this has prevented numerous staff from leaving.
- Government intervention to allow providers to pay care workers better rates, to highlight care as a career, raise its profile and give recognition.