Updated: Apr 26, 2022
With levels of vaccination rising globally, and with the recent surge of the Omicron variant also leading to higher levels of Covid-19 antibodies in general populations, you could be forgiven for thinking that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us. However, Covid-19 continues to make its presence felt global – particularly for elderly people, who are still most susceptible to severe illness. Here we look at some of the areas it’s continuing to have an impact on their lives.
Care Homes May Be Forced To Close Due To Covid Jab Deadline
Care homes in the UK were required to make sure that all staff members were fully vaccinated by the 11th of November, as per government regulations. Those who do not risk losing their job, or having to take time off until they are fully vaccinated. Because of this, there is still a very real risk of care homes in the UK needing to shut down due to staff shortages which could leave more elderly people to seek care in their own homes.
Unions and providers are warning of a staff exodus in England.
The requirement implemented by the government means that time is running out, and a lot of providers and unions are warning that this will have a hugely detrimental impact on care homes across the country. The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has stated that he believes the vaccine policy is incredibly unfair and that around 2,000 of the care home workers in the region now face losing their employment overnight unless they got their first jab this week. Burnham believes that the government is singling out carers, although Sajid Javid, the health and social care secretary, has stated that it is very likely this policy is going to be extended to frontline NHS workers.
Countries roll back vaccine mandates for healthcare workers
Mandatory vaccinations for health care workers have been mooted in various countries around the world. However, not all countries have decided to proceed with this approach. For example, the Canadian province of Ontario recently ditched the policy after seeing the negative impact it had on the fellow Canadian province of British Columbia. When it was introduced in BC, the result was 3,000 healthcare workers having their employment terminated with huge knock-on effects for elderly people in terms of canceled surgeries and diagnostic tests. Likewise, the Irish authorities also recently considered the idea of mandatory vaccinations but ultimately decided against it, preferring to stick with a voluntary approach – a decision no doubt influenced by a desire to avoid any kind of exodus of care workers.
Care England Speaks Out
Care England represents independent care service providers in the country. The chief executive, Professor Martin Green, has spoken out about the vaccine requirement. He feels it is going to deepen the staffing crisis in the industry, forcing some homes to close. He stated while speaking to BBC Radio 4 that while the care providers across the UK accept that there is a desire to vaccinate as many people as possible, he does feel that the UK government has moved on the compulsion for social care vaccination without truly understanding its implications. He also revealed that he thought the government hadn’t fully considered the impact of staff shortages and that care homes were now in an increasingly difficult position, especially when it comes to the conundrum of balancing quality and care and safety with fewer staff.
Elderly people will look to at-home care services to help them through this period
The prospect of care homes needing to shut down is likely to see more people look to live-in carer agencies in order to get the care and assistance they need. However, as the Live-In Care Hub has displayed with their “No Place Like Home” report, 97 percent of people do not want to go into a care home anyway if they become less able to cope or unwell. With live-in care, you can dictate all terms of the care agreement, including whether or not you want a care worker who has received the vaccination. You can also determine the tasks you need assistance with too.
Elderly people scared to leave home due to the Covid-19 pandemic
As well as having a direct effect on elderly people’s ability to receive care in healthcare settings, the pandemic has also led to increasing numbers of elderly people who are now more afraid to leave their homes, resulting in an uptick in the number of people seeking domiciliary care services.
This is something that has been confirmed by SeniorLine, a confidential listening service for elderly people, which saw the number of calls it receives double because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The organization has stated that a lot of elderly people are scared to leave their homes even with the restrictions starting to lift. Read on to discover more about this and how to help anxious elderly people who need care but fear leaving the home.
Anxiety is rife amongst older people at the moment
A manager for SeniorLine, Damien Leneghan, has stated that anxiety is rife amongst elderly people at the moment. He cited one case of a woman who stated she now becomes nervous about the thought of visiting a friend or going to the shops because she has gotten so used to being on her own at home, despite admitting that it is monotonous and depressing. This is something that we have seen in a lot of people as a result of the pandemic. They have lost their confidence and they feel safer staying at home even though they realise that it is not good for them.
Additional research backs up these findings
It is not only SeniorLine that have reported these sort of findings. Two national surveys have been carried out that have delved deeper into the enduring losses older people have suffered because of the pandemic and the impact it has had on them. Age Alliance published a report called Telling It Like It Is, which found that a lot of people have lost their capacity for sociability and that their resilience reserves were worn very thin. This is something that the In Their Own Words report by Trinity College echoes.
Consider home care services for elderly people who need assistance
While it can be tempting to encourage your loved ones to move into a residential home if they are feeling like they do not want to leave the home and they need care and assistance, this can end up causing much more distress. As the Better At Home 2021 Report shows, people prefer the dignity and contentedness that comes with living at home. We can certainly argue that this is even more so the case in light of the pandemic. By enlisting the services of a live-in carer, you will have someone who can provide your loved one with assistance and support, giving them the much-needed company they need to combat their loneliness. At the same time, the carer will be able to encourage your family member to leave the home to meet friends or go shopping. They will feel more confident about doing so with their carer by their side.