Consultation opens on plan to stop movement of staff between care settings

The government wants your views on plans to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infections by making residential and nursing care home providers restrict the movement of care staff.

The government is considering plans that would mean residential and nursing care home providers in England must restrict the movement of staff providing personal care or nursing care in their services.

The plans would stop staff movement between different care settings and between health and care settings to minimise the risk of infection of COVID-19, and would apply to Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered residential and nursing care home providers in England.

Providers would be required not to use staff to provide nursing or personal care who are carrying out, or who have carried out within the previous 14 days, a regulated activity in another setting or for another provider, subject to certain exceptions.

A study on the impact of coronavirus in care homes in England indicated that one of the common factors in care homes with higher levels of coronavirus infection among staff was how much they employed staff who worked across multiple sites.

In the adult social care winter plan the government committed to new regulations to limit staff movement between care homes, and between care homes and other health and care settings.

The government wants to make regulations that would temporarily modify regulation 18 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 which deals with staffing.

The requirement would apply to the use of all staff including bank or agency staff, excluding registered managers, or individuals deployed to undertake tasks other than the delivery of care, such as cleaning.

The government says “It is not the intention of the policy to prohibit the employment of an individual who holds a relevant second job with another provider,” so long as they are not attending that setting for the period the requirement is in place.

Providers could continue to use agency or other temporary staff provided those individuals are not attending another health or social care setting. If staff move settings there should be a 2-week period in between.
The policy suggests that providers deploying agency staff “could consider the use of exclusivity contracts with agencies or block-book agency workers on a temporary or minimum hours contract.”

Providers would be expected to ensure temporary workers have access to a test before they begin their placement, as well as routine testing during their placement.

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