Last reviewed 26 January 2022

According to research from the National Care Forum (NCF), nearly half of care homes have closed their doors to new residents and two-thirds of domiciliary care providers are turning down requests for home care because of staff shortages.

NCF said the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment (VCOD) regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2022, have caused “thousands” of care workers to leave their jobs after failing to get vaccinated, and many are off sick isolating with Covid-19.

Care home staff are already required to have the Covid-19 vaccine by law.

A survey by NCF revealed that providers faced an average vacancy rate of 18% in addition to a 14% average absence rate at the start of January.

This has led to 43% of care home providers closing to new residents and 66% of home care providers refusing new requests for home care, with 21% of home care providers handing back existing care packages.

NCF found staff shortages had a negative impact on existing staff teams, and providers are relying more on agency staff with the associated costs: 97% of respondents, who between them employ 98,000 staff, said remaining staff were working extra shifts, 81% were using more agency staff, while 66% said they were working with lower staff levels than planned.

Meanwhile, data released by Skills for Care show vacancies across the adult social care sector rose from 9.2% to 9.4% from November to December 2021, up from 6.1% in May, here, while the number of posts filled in services fell to 3.7% below March 2021 levels, here.

Vacancies remained highest in domiciliary care, rising from 12% to 12.6% from November to December 2021, up from 8.4% in April; the biggest gaps remained among registered nurses, with a vacancy rate of 17.4%.

NCF Chief Executive Vic Rayner commented: “Those working on the frontline describe the situation today as ‘grim, difficult and relentless’. This must stop.”

More information about the NCF’s survey is available here.