Important Guidance on Obligatory Vaccinations for all CQC Registered Services

From 1st April 2022, individuals undertaking CQC regulated activities in England (including secondary and primary care) must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, regardless of their employer.

On 11th November it became obligatory for all people that work in a care home in any capacity, to be double vaccinated against Covid-19. This same obligation is also being placed on any organisation with a CQC registered service or any with a patient/client facing workforce operating as part of a CQC-regulated service. From 1st April 2022, individuals undertaking CQC regulated activities in England must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, regardless of their employer, including secondary and primary care. Find out more below, including who this regulation applies to and next steps you can take.

On 11th November, it became obligatory for all people that work in a care home in any capacity, to be double vaccinated against Covid-19. That meant that care homes had to dismiss (or redeploy out of the service) any of their staff and volunteers who had not been vaccinated by that date. In order to do this, they needed to prepare, both in terms of gathering the appropriate data on their workforce and also thinking about the process they needed to go though with any staff that were not double vaccinated by the deadline.

The New Regulation

This same obligation is now also placed on any organisation with a CQC registered service or any with a patient/client facing workforce operating as part of a CQC-regulated service. From 1st April 2022 individuals undertaking CQC regulated activities in England must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, regardless of their employer, including secondary and primary care.

The government regulations are expected to come into effect from 1 April 2022, subject to parliamentary process. This means that unvaccinated individuals will need to have had their first dose by 3 February 2022, in order to have received their second dose by the 1 April 2022 deadline.

We know from the implementation of this new regulation in the care home sector that not every single volunteer and staff member will have been vaccinated by the deadline. Some people may refuse the vaccine for health reasons or other reasons personal to themselves. It is very likely that mandatory vaccinations in care services will put some people off coming into or staying in the care sector for their employment.

The overriding risk therefore is that this new regulation will increase the number of staff vacancies and make it more difficult to recruit to care services.

Who does the regulation apply to?

The new regulation applies to any person who works in a client or patient-facing role in any CQC-regulated service, even if their employer is not the regulated provider. It also applies to volunteers in similar roles. People in office-based roles who do not come into contact with service users would not fall under this regulation.

So, for example: an administrator in an office working in a Home Care team who does not see service users in their homes would not require double vaccinations, but a Foot Care Assistant in a regulated home-visiting foot care service, or a volunteer driver in a Hospital Discharge service would fall under this regulation.

Next Steps

We know that one-to-one conversations have been the most effective way to support colleagues to make an informed choice, often leading to vaccination uptake. Therefore, it is important for line managers to arrange and have supportive one-to-one conversations with unvaccinated staff members to identify reasons for vaccine hesitancy and provide information that will support them to make an informed decision about the vaccine.

You can find Covid-19 vaccine communication materials from the NHS here. Organisations should encourage individuals who have not yet been vaccinated to use the resources available and discuss with their own GP or trusted healthcare professional if they wish to have a further conversation or have any questions around vaccination.

It is important that these conversations with staff are supportive and empathetic, rather than coercive. It is also useful to try to make it as simple as possible for staff and volunteers to get the vaccine, for example by allowing time in work for them to do this if necessary, or giving them the locations of the nearest vaccine centres.

It is important that organisations gather the relevant intelligence on their workforce through these conversations – ask staff and volunteers to share with you their vaccine status and to demonstrate this with their vaccine passports, cards or letters. Record which staff have been vaccinated and which will get vaccinated.

Ensure that the deadlines will be met: for a first vaccination, the deadline is 3rd February 2022. For someone awaiting their second vaccination, this could be any time up to 31st March 2022.

It is vital therefore to record details of those staff and volunteers who intend to decline having a vaccination and the reasons why. Unless they are exempt, or later change their mind (it is worth having more than one conversation with colleagues in this position just in case) you will need to be clear with them what your procedure will be from an employment point of view when the deadline passes. Will you be able to redeploy these staff and volunteers to another, non-regulated service? Or, will you need to dismiss them on 1st April? The conversations you have with staff will need to make the consequences clear. Ensure you have sought HR advice on the dismissal process and what letters and other communication will be required for those staff.

Organisations need to start acting now to gather appropriate data and consider the actions required of them and their staff by 1st April 2022.

Contact

If you have any questions about this guidance, please contact: stuart.prince@ageuk.org.uk

Reminder: Dementia Awareness eLearning Available

A quick reminder that there are three dementia awareness eLearning modules developed by Alzheimer’s Society available to the Age UK Network.

This is a quick reminder that there are three dementia awareness eLearning modules available to the Age UK Network. Whether you work directly with those living with dementia or not, we hope this eLearning will help to equip Age UK staff and volunteers with the skills and confidence to communicate with people with dementia, face to face and virtually. Find out all the details below:

The three eLearning modules are:
  • Understanding dementia
  • Engaging with people in the early stages of dementia
  • Responding to distressed behaviours
Who can complete the Dementia eLearning?

All modules are open to everyone, all staff, and volunteers. Every learner will receive a certificate upon completion.

How were these modules developed?

These new modules were developed by Alzheimer’s Society.

When should I complete the modules?

The Age UK network will have access to them for 1 year, so best to complete them sooner rather than later!

Please note, it may take up to one hour for the course to be marked as completed and for you to receive the certificate in your inbox. We thank you in advance for your patience.

How long is each module?

Each module takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. Once you start, you can save any progress and come back to it.

How do I access these modules?

If you already have an eLearning account, this course will automatically appear under the “learning” section of your dashboard in the eLearning site. You can access it straight away and no action is needed.

If you need to sign up, please complete this form.

Please note that registration to the e-learning site may take a few days. You will receive an email with your log in information once you have been registered.

What do I do once I am logged in?

If you cannot see the modules on your dashboard when you log in, you can find it either by:

  • Clicking onto ‘courses’ and then ‘Dementia eLearning’; or
  • Using the search bar on your home page by typing in ‘Age UK Dementia E-learning Programme’.

If you have any questions on access to the e-learning site, please contact: adviceunit@ageuk.org.uk

Free awareness talks from Bowel Cancer UK

Bowel Cancer UK host free online bowel cancer awareness talks, to help organisations to support those they work with. Find out how to book a presentation for your organisation.

Bowel Cancer UK provide free online bowel cancer awareness talks to workplaces and community groups across the UK. As 90+ percent of bowel cancers occur in those who are over 50 (yet are treatable and curable when caught early) the organisation would like to invite all members of the Age UK Network to book one of their 30-minute virtual presentations to highlight signs, symptoms, and risks for older people. Find out all about the talks, including how to book your place at a presentation, below.

Bowel cancer is currently the fourth most common cancer in England and the second biggest cancer killer. Over 34,000 people in England are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, and over 13,500 people die annually from the disease.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way, as bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially when caught early. That’s why Bowel Cancer UK are dedicated to raising awareness through our volunteer-led awareness talks.

What will be in the talk?

Our volunteers will deliver a 30-minute virtual presentation and highlight the following key awareness messages:

  • Signs and symptoms – learn the most common symptoms of bowel cancer
  • Risks – gain an awareness of the risk factors associated with bowel cancer
  • Bowel Screening – learn about the NHS bowel screening programme and the importance of taking part

Our volunteers will also be happy to answer any questions you might have. Very often, they have had personal experience of bowel cancer, and therefore have a great deal of knowledge and wisdom to share.

We really do rely on the support of workplaces and community groups to help us raise awareness of this common, yet curable, cancer.

Removal of Table of Services from Brand Partner Websites

As things begin to stabilise and Partners hopefully no longer need to regularly suspend and reactivate services at short notice, the Partner Content Team recommend removing last year’s Table of Services from your websites.

At the start of the pandemic, Age UK’s Partner Content Team helped set up a table of services that Partners could use on your websites to show the public which of your services were closed, operating differently, or continuing during lockdown. As things begin to stabilise and you hopefully no longer need to regularly suspend and reactivate services at short notice, we are no longer recording this information in this way. As a result, the table of services is no longer up-to-date, and we recommend removing it and returning to updating this information on your website as regular content in the CMS.

Moving forward, the Brand Partner Portal will provide a much more refined way to supply us with your services and activity information which will help to display it nicely on your websites while replacing your Services, Activities & Events and Shops pages.

The Portal will be a place where you have more control of your data via a secure database. It will hold information on your organisation, your local Services, Activities & events, and Shops which will then be searchable on your own local website and in the Age UK national website local directory.

Any changes that you make on the portal will be automatically applied to both your local website and the national website. The Age UK Advice Line will also be able to access it to provide accurate advice to older people when they call.

If you are interested in getting going with the Portal sooner rather than later, the Portal Access team Portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk can move you to an earlier group in the rollout. Let us know! For more information on the rollout, please see this post which contains recordings of three recent webinars on the Brand Partner Portal.

For any other queries regarding the above, please email Partner.Content@ageuk.org.uk as we look to support you updating this moving forward. 

Coming soon – I&A services online discussion groups

Age UK’s Quality & Transformation team are looking to organise a set of I&A services discussion groups. Find out all the details including how to get involved.

In the September edition of Inform & Advise, we offered all I&A managers and advisers the opportunity to discuss a range of topics in small groups. Many thanks to those who have expressed an interest in joining one or more of the proposed groups so far. We will assess numbers at the end of September and organise dates in October and November 2021. If you missed the piece in Inform and Advise and would like to know more or get involved, full details can be found below.

The aim is to pilot the discussion groups to see how valuable they are to local I&A staff and volunteers. If the discussion groups go well and demand for them continues, we will look at running them periodically throughout 2022.

The proposed discussion group topics are:

  • Reopening services safely after the pandemic
  • Remote supervision and support for I&A Teams
  • Overcoming the challenges of establishing an external Peer to Peer File Review Arrangement
  • Volunteering after the pandemic
  • Managing demand in your I&A services
  • Lessons learned from dealing with emergencies during the pandemic

The discussion groups will be facilitated by members of the Quality & Transformation team. They are not intended to be training sessions. Their purpose is to create a space for I&A service managers to share their experiences with other local partners. As I&A staff have all had to face the same or very similar challenges in adapting to a radically changed working environment and many are exploring how to work with clients going forward, this is a good opportunity to share views and ideas on what your work will look like in the future.

If you or members of your team are interested in attending any of the discussion groups please contact janice.davis@ageuk.org.uk.

New Dementia Awareness eLearning now available

There are now three new dementia awareness eLearning modules developed by Alzheimer’s Society available to the Age UK Network.

We are pleased to announce that three new dementia awareness eLearning modules are now available to the Age UK Network. Whether you are a member of staff working directly in dementia services or providing benefits advice, or a lunch club volunteer, we hope this eLearning will help to equip Age UK staff and volunteers with the skills and confidence to communicate with people with dementia, face to face and virtually.

The three eLearning modules are:
  • Understanding dementia
  • Engaging with people in the early stages of dementia
  • Responding to distressed behaviours
Who can complete the Dementia eLearning?

All modules are open to everyone, all staff, and volunteers. Every learner will receive a certificate upon completion.

How were these modules developed?

These new modules were developed by Alzheimer’s Society.

When should I complete the modules?

The Age UK network will have access to them for 1 year, so best to complete them sooner rather than later!

Please note, it may take up to one hour for the course to be marked as completed and for you to receive the certificate in your inbox. We thank you in advance for your patience.

How long is each module?

Each module takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. Once you start, you can save any progress and come back to it.

How do I access these modules?

If you already have an eLearning account this course will automatically appear under the “learning” section of your dashboard in the eLearning site. You can access it straight away and no action is needed.

If you need to sign up, please complete this form.

Please note that registration to the e-learning site may take a few days. You will receive an email with your log in information once you have been registered.

What do I do once I am logged in?

If you cannot see the modules on your dashboard when you log in, you can find it either by:

  • Clicking onto ‘courses’ and then ‘Dementia eLearning’; or
  • Using the search bar on your home page by typing in ‘Age UK Dementia E-learning Programme’.

If you have any questions on access to the e-learning site, please contact: adviceunit@ageuk.org.uk

Walking Football Programme – Final Round of Funding Now Available

We are delighted to announce that applications for the final round of grant funding for our Walking Football Programme are now open.

We are delighted to launch the second and final round of funding for The Age UK Walking Football Programme, in partnership with the Football Association and Sport England, with 42 grants of £2,500 funded by the Football Association and 19 grants of up to £10,000 funded by Sport England now available. The deadline for applications is 12pm, Monday 13th September 2021. Read on for further details, or access the grant application form, guidance and budget documents on The Loop here.

Walking football is a slower version of the game and has become increasingly popular in recent years, designed to help people get fit or maintain an active lifestyle no matter what their age and fitness levels or experience of playing the game.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a decrease in older people’s physical activity levels which has preceded to a reduction in one’s ability to do day-to-day activities, joint and muscle pain, and had a negative impact on mental health. It is essential that we support older people to regain their confidence, restore fitness, and improve their mental well-being; walking football is a great opportunity to do that in a way that is safe, fun and inclusive way for older people.

Grassroots football returned in April 2021 which allowed us to re-launch the programme with 24 local Age UKs setting up 42 new walking football groups that began delivery this Summer. All groups followed FA and Government guidance as the Nation followed the steps in the COVID-19 Roadmap. We want to reassure all partners that the delivery of this programme has the health and safety of older people at the forefront of all delivery. With all restrictions now eased, we hope that older people will continue to be encouraged to take part in physical activities as has been shown already in our early walking football sessions.

Applications for funding will be welcomed from local Age UKs in England; whether you want to start up new sessions in your area or already have existing walking football sessions and want to create new groups to expand provision.

Next steps

The grant application form, guidance and budget documents can be found on The Loop here. We’ve already received a number of ‘expressions of interest’ from local partners since the programme was launched, and we look forward to receiving applications for funding about this opportunity. If you have any questions regarding this programme, please contact Peter.Dutton@ageuk.org.uk

The deadline for applications is 12pm, Monday 13th September 2021.

If you have any questions regarding this programme, please contact Peter.Dutton@ageuk.org.uk.

Upcoming Webinar

We are hosting a webinar on Thursday 2nd September 2021 for you to come along and find out more about The Age UK Walking Football Programme, we will be giving an overview of the programme and answering any questions you may have ahead of applying for funding. Please access the webinar by using this Microsoft Teams Link.

Useful Links:

Contact:

Please get in touch with Peter Dutton at Peter.Dutton@ageuk.org.uk for more information.

Age UK Digital Inclusion Network – August Meeting and Teams Group

Find out how to join the Age UK Digital Inclusion Network, including the Microsoft Teams group and their upcoming meeting on Tuesday 17th August.

Currently standing at over 50 members, the Age UK Digital Inclusion Network hopes to promote network learning and the development of Digital Inclusion support services for older people, through bi-monthly network meetings and a Microsoft Teams group, where partners can share knowledge and troubleshoot. Our next Digital Inclusion Network meeting takes place on Tuesday 17th August from 10:00-11:30am and will focus on fundraising for your digital inclusion services. Find out full details below, including how to sign up for the Digital Inclusion Network, the Teams Group, and the next meeting.

Both the Teams group and the network meetings are open to staff representatives who are responsible for overseeing the development and/or delivery of their local Digital Inclusion support services. You don’t need to be an expert to join, but you do need to be passionate about the importance of digital skills support for older people. The group will be joined, and meetings attended, by network partners who might just be starting out, those who have been delivering these services recently during the pandemic, and those who have a long history of delivery of Digital Inclusion support services.

We’ve already had our first Digital Inclusion Network meeting, but we’re keen to make these available to as many teams across the network as possible. Our next Digital Inclusion Network meeting will focus on fundraising for your digital inclusion services, and will take place on Tuesday 17th August 10:00-11:30am. The meetings are co-facilitated by Age UK and network representatives. By joining the Microsoft Teams group for the Digital Inclusion Network, you will also receive access to the bi-monthly meeting invites which will be hosted on Teams.

If you would like to join the Digital Inclusion Network, want to sign up for our next meeting, or have any questions about getting involved, please email servicesdigital@ageuk.org.uk with your local Age UK/Cymru name and role.

Think Digital Programme – Phase 2 Evaluation Report

The evaluation report from the second stage of the Think Digital Programme is now available for you to download.

We’re pleased to publish the Think Digital Phase 2 Evaluation Report, written by Imogen Blood Associates. This second stage of the Santander-funded digital inclusion programme saw the continued delivery of the Digital Champion remote digital support programme with five local Age UK/Age Cymrus. This evaluation looked at the long-term ways in which engagement with the programme impacted an older person’s day-to-day life, and whether it facilitate their continued use of digital.

You can read the full reports and executive summaries of both Phase 1 and Phase 2 on the Think Digital page here. If you have any questions about this programme or the report specifically please get in touch with servicesdigital@ageuk.org.uk

Moving Towards the End of Covid Restrictions – Some Considerations for Services

With restrictions now due to lift on 19th July, there is some extra time for Service Managers to consider what approaches we need to take once they are lifted.

With the plan for all remaining restrictions to be lifted from 21st June now rescheduled, many Service Managers may not be thinking too much about things getting back to normal. Although the vaccine rollout continues at a pace across the country, progress is still tempered by the rise of variants of Covid-19. This period of another 4 weeks of restrictions does give us time though to consider what approaches we need to take once they are lifted and full reinstatement of support and activities takes place. Some of these considerations for Services are detailed below, including actions to take after July 19th and information on vaccinations for staff, volunteers, and older people.

Vaccinated staff, volunteers and older people

Perhaps the main consideration is one presented by the vaccination programme itself and that is how to work across groups of staff, volunteers and older people, when for a while yet, not everyone will have been vaccinated and perhaps never will be totally vaccinated, as people may refuse it or decline it for health reasons.

Whatever the result of the Government consultation on whether to make vaccinations obligatory for staff in regulated care services going forward, it is likely that most staff supporting older people across our network will not be obliged by their employer to have a vaccine. It is possible that some Partners may go down this route and run the risk of unfair dismissal claims etc, further down the road, although it might first be worth considering a voluntary, consent-based approach:

It is worth approaching all of your front line staff and volunteers and talking to them about the vaccine – get their views on it and ask if they would be prepared to inform you if they have had it or intend to and whether you can use that information to plan services. Ask their views on supporting people who have not had the vaccine. Similarly, you will need to ask the older people you support in your services the same questions and then begin to create cohorts of staff and older people who are compatible due to their vaccine status and wishes. It is possible that this strategy may mean that some staff are redeployed to other services. How could that be achieved? Does this mean that some services may have to be restricted in the near future?

Post 19th July Considerations

Those looking to hold out until this date and then simply ignore the dilemmas and move straight to full reinstatement of services, should slow down a little and proceed with extreme caution. For now at least, we do not know if the deadline for the lifting of restrictions will be put back even further; it is possible, depending upon the growth of the variants.

Notwithstanding the issue of unvaccinated staff, volunteers or older people, the use of Risk Assessments for Covid-19 are very likely to become a permanent feature of our standard suite of assessments in the future, so keep them going. Similarly, continue to consider the use of PPE in services beyond the full lifting of restrictions, particularly where any personal care or close support for unvaccinated people is involved. PPE is still free to social care services either via the Portal if you are CQC registered or via your Local Authority or Local Resilience Forum if you are not. This will be the case until April 2022, so make the most of it where you can.

Even where the use of PPE might not be considered necessary once restrictions are lifted and most people interacting with each other are vaccinated, we should still place an emphasis on hand hygiene and social distancing where possible, even if just 1m. The thinking at this stage is, we will almost certainly be living with Covid for a very long time, even if we are all vaccinated. Remember too, that even when fully vaccinated, it is possible still to catch the disease and pass it on to others – (see www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination).

The overall message has to be – Proceed with Caution! The vaccination programme certainly reduces the risks, but it does not eradicate them and continuing the Hands, Face, Space messaging where appropriate is strongly advised.

The guidance and risk assessments released in June 2020 on restarting services is still relevant. You can access it here.