Care homes could be ‘unviable’ as bed occupancy falls

HEALTH bosses in Kirklees say mandatory Covid vaccinations could encourage more workers to leave the nursing home sector.

It is a central theme of the district’s 131 nursing homes with around 3,500 beds, the quality of which has “deteriorated slightly” during the pandemic.

And as bed occupancy is falling, there are fears that some nursing homes could become “unprofitable”.

The council says that in Kirklees, just over 4,000 people work in the nursing home sector. That’s more than the NHS lists.

The majority of the workforce – 85% – is female with an average age of 43 years. 70% of the employees work in direct care functions.

A report to the Kirklees Council Health and Social Care Panel next week (Nov. 11) said the care sector is facing reduced admissions, increased death rates and increased business costs such as providing PPE, screening staff support, and recruiting and retention.

It states: “The requirement for personal vaccinations has created problems for the workforce, as the staff do not want to receive a vaccine. The prescription of vaccines has and is expected to result in more employees leaving the sector. ”

Figures from the NHS for the period December 8, 2020 to October 24, 2021 show that in Kirklees, 73% of geriatric nursing homes reported that at least 80% of all staff were vaccinated at least once.

Other NHS stats for Kirklees:

Total number of residents in nursing homes: 2,254

Number of residents vaccinated once: 2,148 (95.3%)

Number of twice vaccinated residents: 2,103 (93.3%)

Total number of employees: 3,395

Staff vaccinated once: 3,125 (92%)

Employees vaccinated twice: 2,875 (84.7%)

The council’s report also highlights nursing home occupancy affected by Covid-19.

Some houses were able to remain at an “appropriate level” of occupancy, while others have dropped to below 50%, which is “unsustainable” in the long term.

The report said, “This is likely to result in some homes becoming inoperable.”

In a speech last year, Clr Mus Khan, Cabinet Member for the Health and Welfare Council, said nursing homes in Kirklees were on the verge of financial collapse as they struggled with the coronavirus outbreak.

She described the situation in nursing homes as “bleak”, with some having “significant vacancies” due to the families’ fears of a Covid 19 infection.

She said, “Some families have removed their loved ones from nursing homes to shield them at home from new arrivals.”

Only 1% of the district’s nursing homes were rated “excellent” by the Care Quality Commission in 2021.

The majority – 67% – were rated as “good”, 25% as “in need of improvement”. Only 1% was rated as “unsatisfactory”.

The remaining 6% relate to providers or attitudes that are not assessed.

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