Last Autumn the government planned to introduce legislation banning staff movement between care homes other than in exceptional circumstances. After an 11th hour consultation with the care sector, they abandoned these plans and focussed instead on tackling infection control through increasing staffing by launching the Workforce Capacity Fund.
This move was widely welcomed by the care sector and therefore it took many by surprise when earlier this month the Department of Health and Social Care published its guidance ‘Restricting workforce movement between care homes and other settings’.
Here, our experts summarise the key points from the guidance and how it’s likely to affect care business owners whose staff work across multiple settings – either for one business across several sites, for multiple care employers, or agency or temporary staff.
Staff movement between care settings should be avoided unless absolutely necessary and this includes:
The guidance refers to the fact that the Infection Control Fund can be used to fund the additional costs of these measures or the recently launched Workforce Capacity Fund (although the guidance to the latter states that expenditure covered needs to be incurred between 16 January and 31 March). It’s not clear how these measures will be funded after March. It’s also worth noting that although the government gave care businesses wide discretion as to how to use the Infection Control Fund grant, there now seems to be a clear expectation that it will be used to cover these costs (only recently it was also made clear that care providers were expected to use this grant to meet the costs of paying self-isolating staff full pay during the isolation period).
The guidance states that the: "CQC continues to monitor staff movement and uses that information to help plan its inspection activity. Where information is received that unnecessary staff movement is taking place, the CQC will inspect."
The guidance states that this may be permitted where a provider has planned its staffing requirements in line with CQC's fundamental standards and is actively taking steps to address any ongoing resourcing needs but has insufficient staff to deliver care safely. Even then, they "should ensure this is for as limited a period of time as possible and should only be for as long as is needed for the provider to resolve any staffing issues."
The individual should have:
In addition to limiting movement between settings, the guidance states that providers should take steps to limit staff's use of public transport and staff should avoid lift-sharing arrangements and travel solo in their own vehicle where possible. Where this is not possible, the Infection Control Fund grant can be used "to provide private transport or encourage walking or cycling to and from work and support this with changing facilities or rooms." Many care businesses may feel that the extent of measures they are expected to fund from the grant is very wide compared to the remaining grant monies available to them.
If you’re a Citation client and you have questions about how this guidance may affect your care business, you can call our 24/7 advice line for expert guidance on 0345 844 4848.