A care home manager who has lost a sixth of her staff because of the Government’s mandatory vaccination policy has told of the anguish of reading their “heartbreaking” resignation letters.
Niccii Gillett, manager of Elmfield House Residential Home in Woking, Surrey, said six of her 36 staff have already resigned due to the requirement rather than face dismissal.
Thursday is the deadline for care home staff in England to have been doubled jabbed, except for those who are medically exempt.
The latest figures from the NHS show more than 60,000 staff had not been recorded as fully vaccinated as of October 31, meaning tens of thousands face losing their jobs.
Ms Gillett said her staff “firmly stated” in every resignation letter that they did not want to stop working.
Two had been at the 18-bed family-run home for seven years.
The 37-year-old told the PA news agency: “The sad thing is none of them wanted to leave. And reading their resignation letters was heartbreaking.
“They’re so grateful for the opportunities and the first one that left, we gave gifts.
“It was such an emotional afternoon and for days afterwards my residents were heartbroken because they saw this person as one of them, and even a resident, they have said ‘I wish she could come back, I don’t care that she’s not vaccinated’.”
Of the staff she has lost, she said two are double jabbed but had reactions to the vaccine and are nervous that the Government will make booster jabs mandatory.
One had thought she would be medically exempt but was told she is not – a decision she is appealing.
Ms Gillett said there is anger and frustration among staff who had wished to remain in the jobs, adding: “What has really aggravated people is with our residents, everything is about choice, it’s about consent – keywords that are drummed into you as soon as you enter the profession, but that choice has been taken away from my staff.”
Ms Gillett has managed to recruit four full-time staff but is still looking for part-time workers to cover weekend and evening shifts.
She said the last 18 months have brought her sleepless nights and anxiety, and while the home is struggling to attract applicants she considers it “one of those luckier ones”.
She said: “I think there’s a lot of anguish, I think people are really hanging on as long as they can. And I know larger homes are losing a much higher percentage of the workforce and just looking in our local area there’s much advertising going on.
“It’s constant and it’s not just one or two positions, they’re advertising double figures because it is such an issue in care homes.”
Jodie Boucher, manager of Carr Croft Care Home in Leeds, said all her staff have been vaccinated but the home is still being affected by the policy.
She said staff shortages in other homes in the local area means she is being asked to admit residents with more complex needs who are ready for discharge from hospital.
But she said the home is not registered to provide this specialised care and so cannot take these patients, meaning they are forced to remain in hospital.
The 44-year-old told PA: “The managers are very, very stressed at the moment, wondering what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to do it, and the only thing they can do is stop taking people in their homes.
“So then that obviously financially impacts on the home because they can’t take any more people in and then there’s obviously the risk of possibly homes closing.”
Ms Boucher is also the chairwoman of the Registered Managers Network in Leeds, and said some members have already had staff leave due to the mandatory vaccine requirement, while others are expecting to lose them this week.
Recruitment is “crippling”, she said, adding that she is also aware of at least 16 care manager vacancies across the city.