The government has proposed an imminent ban on temporary workers moving between care homes which they state is necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, despite the fact that such workers already change locations in a COVID secure way. It is unlikely that temporary workers are to blame for the spread of COVID19 through care homes, instead the spread is more likely due to care homes being forced to accept residents regardless of whether they were positive for the virus. Clearly care homes house vulnerable people, and therefore the presence of the virus amongst residents will have had a significant health impact, however it is unlikely that temporary workers can really be blamed for the spread.
It should be borne in mind that temporary workers are bound by the same professional regulations as permanent employees, meaning that they have to adhere to the same standards, which in turn means that all care home workers are already adhere to COVID19 regulations to stop the spread of the virus.
Nevertheless, the government is proposing that care homes should not use staff to provide nursing or personal care if they have worked in another care setting within the previous 14 days. If workers change care settings, there should be a period of 14 days in between. The rules won’t apply to staff not providing care or personal services, such as cleaners. Furthermore, the rules would not include staff who are not engaged by the home provider, such as district and community nurses, GPs or other visiting health professionals.
Care home providers will be expected to take reasonable steps to identify workers who might hold additional jobs or undertake shifts at multiple locations, and where an individual has more than role they would need to decide which role they intend to continue. In short, this means that affected individuals will lose income! In effect, the UK’s key workers are being unfairly penalised by having their freedom of choice restricted without any justification.
Furthermore, care home providers will find it extremely difficult to continue providing the levels of care that are expected as there will be an inevitable shortage of temporary workers available to work. The care home sector is already reliant on temporary workers as there aren’t enough permanent to undertake the work, so restricting the movement of temporary workers could be catastrophic.