COVID-19 updates for adult social care and health providers
Mandatory vaccination of people working in care homes
From 11 November 2021, anyone working or volunteering in a care home will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless exempt.
On 4 August 2021, Vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes: operational guidance was published.
This guidance is aimed at care home managers, care workers and local authorities. It includes key information about the incoming legal requirements, including an initial 16-week grace period. The guidance explains who will need to be vaccinated, who might be exempt, what is legally expected of the care home and implications for staff who choose not to be vaccinated.
Care homes need to be aware that this requirement forms part of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) fundamental standards and will be monitored and enforced in appropriate cases from November 2021.
Support for providers
The DHSC has also worked with Skills for Care to provide additional resources to help care home managers and providers prepare for these new regulations.
Continue using PPE and infection prevention and control
Continue to use PPE and infection prevention and control measures in all health and social care settings.
Rules around self-isolation
From 16 August 2021, anyone in England who has been fully vaccinated, or is under the age of 18, will no longer need to self-isolate when they are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Most fully vaccinated care staff who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases can now routinely return to work, provided they have had a negative PCR test. Daily lateral flow tests will need to be taken for 10 days as a precaution. Staff working with extremely clinically vulnerable residents or clients will need a risk assessment carried out by a designated person in the workplace before they return to work.
Self-isolation is no longer required for fully COVID-19 vaccinated care home residents, following the latest changes to admission and care of people in care homes
Anyone who develops symptoms of the virus should self-isolate and get a PCR test and stay in isolation until the result comes back. Anyone who tests positive is required to self-isolate.
Care home visiting guidance
Visiting arrangements in care homes sets out how care homes can support families and visitors to visit residents.
It is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents are vaccinated before conducting visits.
- Every care home resident can have ‘named visitors’ who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of ‘named visitors’ that a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day.
- Every care home resident can choose to nominate an 'essential care giver' who may visit the home to attend to essential care needs. This person should be able to visit in all circumstances, including if the care home has an outbreak (but not if the essential care giver or resident is COVID-positive).
- Named visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum (excluding essential care givers). Physical contact like hand-holding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed.
- Close personal contact such as hugging presents a higher risk. It will be safer if it is brief contact between people who are double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact.
- Care homes can also continue to offer visits to friends or family members through arrangements such as outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods, or from behind windows.
- Individuals notified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are advised not to visit care homes. They may visit in exceptional circumstances, such as when a resident is nearing the end of their life.
There is separate guidance for supported living and extra care settings.
Visits out of care homes
The guidance on visits out of care homes applies to visits where the resident leaves the care home premises.
It gives advice on self-isolation and arrangements for care home staff accompanying residents out of the care home.
Care home residents will no longer be asked to self-isolate, following a transfer from another care facility, or following a planned overnight stay in hospital, subject to risk assessments. Residents admitted to care homes, following emergency overnight admissions to hospital, must still self-isolate for 14 days.
Individual risk assessments should take into account:
- the vaccination status of residents, visitors and staff, including the extent of second vaccinations
- any testing of those accompanying the resident or who they intend to meet on their visit out
- levels of infection in the community
- variants of concern in the community
- where the resident is going on a visit and what activities they will take part in while on the visit
- the mode of transport that residents intend to use
Where a care home is situated in a local community with high, or rapidly rising, levels of infection, and/or where there is evidence of variants of concern or variants under investigation, care home managers should seek additional local advice from Public Health.
In an outbreak, all movements out of a care setting should be minimised as far as possible
If you have further questions please email your local Public Health team for advice: firstname.lastname@example.org
Heat-Health Watch period
We are now in the Heat-Health Watch period, which is in place until 15 September. Please refer to the government’s heatwave plan for England.
Keeping cool in residential and care settings
People in residential and care settings are at particularly high risk of illness and death. This is a useful guide and checklist to keep people safe from high temperatures:
Care in people's homes
Guidance has been published for providers supporting people in their own homes. It includes how to keep your home cool, who is at greatest risk from heat and what to do if someone becomes unwell.
Bulk upload spreadsheet for COVID-19 tests for ASC settings
All adult social care settings using a bulk upload spreadsheet for COVID-19 tests need to use a new spreadsheet from 1 July 2021.
For more information see the guidance for Organisation testing: registration of users.
Watch a recording of the training webinar held by Test and Trace.
Care homes: CQC publishes death notification data involving COVID-19
On 21 July 2021 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published data showing death notifications involving COVID-19 received from individual care homes between 10 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. This is accompanied by their CQC Insight report which draws from the data to make the key points and provides crucial context for understanding what this data says.
Providers have a duty to notify CQC of deaths of people under their care. This data is based on the notifications that care home providers sent to CQC, and all care providers were given advanced sight of the data published on their service.
Restricting workforce movement between care homes and other care settings
The guidance on restricting workforce movement between care homes and other care settings advises care home providers to limit staff movement between settings in all but exceptional circumstances.
Faster medication orders for care homes
The LGA and NHS have published a step-by-step guide for care homes to quickly and safely order medications online for residents via proxy access to their GP online services account.
It provides examples of all the documentation needed and explains the data sharing, staff training, information governance, confidentiality, set-up and communication requirements needed between care homes, GP practices and pharmacies.
If you have any questions, email: email@example.com
Key guidance for adult social care
All care staff
Care staff in all areas should review Coronavirus restrictions: What you can and cannot do.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): adult social care guidance brings together guidance published by the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England and other relevant guidance.
Overview of adult social care guidance on coronavirus provides information for adult social care providers.
There is guidance specifically for social care staff on the NHS England website.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): health and wellbeing of the adult social care workforce contains all the latest advice for those working in adult social care on managing your mental health and how employers can take care of the wellbeing of their staff during the coronavirus outbreak.
Reducing risk in adult social care provides a framework for how you should assess and support members of your workforce who may be at an increased risk from coronavirus.
Hospital discharge service guidance covers the same and timely discharge of people from hospital.
Guidance for people receiving direct payments gives advice for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as those who provide care and support.
Coronavirus: right to work checks provides advice for employers carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic.
Guidance on calculating the minimum wage includes an updated section on sleep-in shifts.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) have produced a directory of resources and best practice from across the social care sector.
COVID-19: admission and care of people in care homes covers how to protect care home residents and staff.
How to work safely in care homes provides information on the use of PPE for care workers working in care homes.
How to work safely in domiciliary care provides information on the use of PPE for care workers delivering home care (domiciliary care). It covers visiting home care, extra care housing and live-in home care.
Provision of home care brings together guidance for social care staff, registered providers, local authorities and commissioners who are supporting and delivering care to people in their own homes.
Guidance for providers of supported living services includes safe systems of working and infection control.
Services supporting people with specific needs
Guidance on looking after people who lack capacity sets out what relevant circumstances should be considered when making best interest decisions.
- Regard should also be given to the ethical framework for adult social care, and the wellbeing duty in section 1 of the Care Act 2014. Care homes are reminded of the responsibility to comply with obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998, as applicable.
- When supporting people who are in their last year of life, NHS guidance on end of life care is available to support this process, as well as advice from the British Geriatric Society.
COVID-19: supporting adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults: This guidance for care staff includes a section on Supporting the person through change.
COVID-19: Getting help with daily activities outside your home during coronavirus: Guidance is for carers and people who require support outside of the home. It also explains when people offering support count towards the ‘rule of 6’ or two household limit.
Providing unpaid care
COVID-19: providing unpaid care to friends or family: This guidance is for people providing unpaid care to friends or family.
Steps to take following the death of a person who worked in adult social care sets out what employers need to do following a COVID-19 related death of an employee or volunteer.
COVID-19: guidance for care of the deceased explains how to manage the death of a person with suspected or confirmed coronavirus.
Verification of death in times of emergency guidance clarifies practice for verifying deaths outside of hospitals.