Only 1% of older people requiring home care may have received the vaccine

Cera, one of the UK’s largest home care providers, has today released data highlighting the stark lack of vaccinations among older people requiring care at home – with only 1% of the 10,000 users Cera provide home care for in the UK having received the vaccine to date. The firm, which provides 25,000 in-home care visits each day, is calling for an in-home vaccination service to be built onto the current vaccine roll-out.

Cera is also calling for care workers themselves to be at the front of the queue for vaccines alongside other critical workers, as it confirms that less than one third (29%) of its own 5,000 strong care workforce in the UK has been vaccinated to date. The firm, which like all private healthcare companies can’t procure vaccinations independently, is calling for this deficit to be addressed to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the nation’s carers, and to ensure those they provide care for aren’t placed at unnecessary risk.

Across the UK, more than half a million older people receive regular home care each, with many unable to attend remote vaccination appointments – with three primary drivers behind this problem. Firstly, some are managing multiple chronic conditions or are simply too frail, which prevents them from travelling.  Secondly, many are anxious about, or afraid of, hospital visits due to the volume of COVID-19 patients being treated there – some UK hospitals are currently treating COVID-19 patients as 50 per cent of their full capacity.  Finally, some older people are discouraged by disinformation about the vaccine which has been propagated by social posts or unscrupulous online media.

Likewise, many of those receiving home care live by themselves and don’t have a network to support them during the vaccination process with travel, recovery and so forth. To ensure vaccination roll-out targets are met, and that the most clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 are protected as soon as possible, Cera is suggesting the UK’s healthcare workers are trained to dispense vaccines in patients own homes, with mobile units allowing better outreach and vaccination coverage.

Through this approach, NHS vaccination efforts could be significantly accelerated, which in turn will help suppress the r rate and reduce transmission among the elderly – both of which are key to ending lockdown and preventing further tragedies.

Commenting on the data, Dr Ben Maruthappu, CEO of Cera, Co-Founder of the NHS Innovation Accelerator and Social Care policy expert, said:

“Whilst we were right to prioritise older people for vaccinations, due to the tragically disproportionate impact the virus can have on them, we have totally overlooked the logistical and lifestyle challenges that many of them face in attending appointments. As one of the largest home care providers in the country, our data points to a stark problem that needs to be addressed urgently. If those that are unable, or unwilling, to attend remote appointments aren’t vaccinated in their own homes, we’ll continue to see the virus spread among the most vulnerable and won’t be able to get the r rate down sufficiently.
Likewise, it’s vital that we learn one of the most pressing lessons from the first wave; that we equip and protect carers properly. Earlier in the pandemic many couldn’t access PPE, whilst this time round many are expected to continue working without the vaccination. Like other healthcare workers, carers should be front of the queue for the vaccine to protect both themselves and those they care for.”

As one of the largest home care providers in the UK, and one of the fastest-growing healthtech businesses in Europe, Cera has provided more than four million home care visits to users during the pandemic. The firm has more than 50 offices across England, Scotland and Wales, and is currently recruiting for 5,000 new staff as it looks to double its headcount through 2021.

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