New guidance on restricting staff movement in care homes

On 3 March 2021, the Government published guidance for care home providers on limiting staff movement between care settings in all but exceptional circumstances to help reduce the spread of infection. The LGA responded to a consultation about whether Government should introduce additional regulations on November 2020, and we are pleased to note that Government listened to our recommendation to offer further guidance to care home providers, rather than regulate in this area.  

Guidance summary

The guidance for care home providers includes:

  • A reminder that care home providers should continue to limit all routine staff movement between settings, unless absolutely necessary, to help reduce the spread of infection
  • A list of the staff groups whose movement should be limited, including staff who work for one provider across several care homes, staff who work on a part-time basis for multiple employers in multiple care homes or other regulated care settings, and agency or other temporary staff
  • Exceptions to the rules on limiting staff movement in order to meet the needs of people using the service and keep them safe, including situations where a care provider has very high levels of staff absence, including arising from a major outbreak
  • How staffing should be planned to reduce routine movement, while maintaining safe staffing levels
  • Recommended mitigations such as block booking to further minimise staff movement where agency or other temporary staff are essential to maintain safe services, and how to mitigate risk where it’s essential to deploy someone between two settings
  • How the round 2 Infection Control Fund (ICF) can be used to support providers without a local authority contract to reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission between care settings, including compensating staff whose normal hours are reduced due to restrictions on their movement
  • How the £120 million workforce capacity fund for local authorities can be used to support providers to limit staff movement, including supporting providers to access funds for additional staffing to minimise deployment across multiple settings, and incentivising take-up of additional hours by existing social care staff by eg paying overtime or childcare costs to allow staff to take on hours they would usually be unable to work.
  • The role of CQC in checking IPC measures, including on staff movement, including that risk assessments are being regularly undertaken
  • The operation of restrictions on staff movement in ‘designated’ settings, or care homes which are zoned for this purpose
  • The limited ‘exceptional circumstances’ where, in order to ensure enough staff are available to provide care safely, care home providers can deploy staff who are also working in another health or social care setting
  • Additional guidance on the testing regime in care homes
  • Additional guidance on staff movement, including limiting use of public transport by staff