A law stopping agency and bank staff moving between different care homes will likely come into effect this winter (see the government’s proposal here). This is to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.
If you manage your care home’s staffing, you might well be concerned.
Will you be able to get cover for illness, vacancies and specialist skills?
Can you still safely staff your home?
The answer is yes - you’ll still be able to use agency staff - but the guidelines for how to safely do this have changed.
Here, we’ll explain what the government is asking care homes to do, and how to plan your staffing for the months ahead.
What’s the government guidance?
Right now, as part of the winter plan 2020/21, care homes are being asked to limit all staff movement between settings unless absolutely necessary.
This is likely to become law in the near future.
To make sure you still get the cover you need, it’s recommended you:
- Make arrangements for agency staff to work exclusively at your home
- Consider recruiting additional staff for winter
Planning your staffing this winter
Start by forecasting the roles and skill sets you need for the next few months.
Then, decide how to get that coverage consistently - whether through recruitment, exclusive or block-booked agency staff, or a mixture of both.
Once you have your staff in place, coordinate rotas and shifts so the same people are working together every time. This helps contain the risk of any infection spread.
Working with agency staff - the new rules
If you’ve decided to use an agency to fill rota gaps, use exclusive contracts to make sure staff only work with your home, and nowhere else.
Make sure you have robust infection prevention controls in place, and that all new staff complete an induction.
If you aren’t able to use your exclusive staff for any reason, you’re still allowed to find cover via your agency. Safe staffing levels remain vital.
You can require non-exclusive agency staff to show you a dated Covid-19 test at the start of each shift for further peace of mind. All agency staff should be included in your seven day cycle of Covid testing.
Key guidelines for working with agency staff in winter 2020/21:
Questions to ask your agency about exclusive staff
If you choose to work with an agency to fill rota gaps this winter, it’s important to feel confident in their ability to help protect you from the potential risk of Covid spread.
Questions to ask:
1. How are exclusive contracts created with staff, so they only work at one home? Where can you see this info?
2. How will a home manager know if someone books non-exclusive staff?
3. What oversight will regional managers get if a home doesn’t use exclusive workers?
4. Will real time reporting and oversight be available to head office?
5. How can they help you demonstrate you’ve planned your staffing to fit with CQC fundamental standards?
If your agency is unable to answer adequately, they may be taking higher risks with their Covid safety standards and operation.
At Florence, we're able to provide strong oversight around your use of exclusive staff and help you comply with government guidelines.
How Florence can help
Our covid safety and transparency measures:
- Daily Covid screening: Staff screened daily for latest Covid test results, which are displayed on their profile.
- Blocking any Covid-positive staff: Staff testing positive will not be able to work or apply for upcoming shifts with you.
- Accessible exclusive staff: View, book and invite exclusive staff to shifts with the click of a button.
- Enforcement of exclusive contracts: Exclusive workers are not able to book shifts at any other homes via Florence throughout their contract
- Real time reporting and oversight: Your staffing use is always viewable to head office, and home/regional managers are automatically notified of the use of non-exclusive staff.
Find out more about working with exclusive staff with Florence here.
We’re committed to helping you through this winter safely.
You might also be interested in:
- How to safely staff your care home (including night shifts)
- How to conduct a Covid risk assessment for care home staff
- 8 steps we're taking for Covid-19 safety at your care home