9th July, 2021 11:29 am

At least one independent residential care provides supporting children and young people with complex needs has made getting the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory for frontline staff.

Salutem, which has 3,000 staff and cares for 1,500 people – including children, adults and the elderly – introduced the policy in March to “keep the people we work with and their families safe”.

The organisation has said it intends to find alternate employment for currently employed unvaccinated staff if they are unable or refuse to have the vaccinations.

However, they do not intend to employ unvaccinated staff in future.

John Godden, chief executive at Salutem, said the policy change had been discussed with care workers before it was introduced and “has been widely supported by staff who agree with our stance that this is reflective of our duty of care”.

“Just one per cent of staff have said they don’t agree with it and we have discussed this with them on a case by case basis,” Goddem added but said some potential new recruits had turned down roles due to the policy.

Salutem staff working with vulnerable children and young people have been “especially positive” because children are not eligible for the vaccine.

“They know it is another way to keep them safe,” the chief executive said.

He added that he had not heard of similar measures being put in place by other providers, saying: “A lot are waiting to see if there is the expected change in guidance around vaccines for health and social care workers but we have dealt with the issue now and are as safe as we can be.”

Liz Cooper, deputy chief executive at the Independent Children’s Home Association (ICHA), said in a newsletter sent to members, and seen by CYP Now, that the ICHA had heard from one other provider which planned to “adopt the same policy whilst most are waiting to see what the government decides”.

Some 50 per cent of members told the ICHA that they felt introducing a compulsory vaccine policy “may become a necessity in the future”.

Cooper added: “Protection is an important part of the children’s residential care role and ICHA applauds the fantastic efforts taken by providers to encourage all staff who can, to have the vaccine.

“Whilst some companies are exploring the possibility of adopting a full staff vaccination programme, as it currently isn’t government policy, it is unlikely that it will be adopted widely in the foreseeable future.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) said in a previous statement that making vaccines mandatory for frontline social care staff was “a highly sensitive and complex issue”.

“Councils are already working very closely with local health and care partners to remove existing barriers to take-up, such as providing greater access and tailoring information to address specific concerns, which may well help reach necessary levels of vaccination on a voluntary basis,”  Councillor David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board said.

Source: Children & Young People Now

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