The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges for the care sector and affected our service in so many ways. The additional pressure placed on my care home staff has been enormous, but they have gone above and beyond to protect our residents and provide the best possible care in what have been extraordinary circumstances.
Despite our very best efforts, last Christmas, we had an outbreak of COVID-19, which sadly took the lives of eight residents. This caused huge emotional distress for all of us, and this tragic event will be embedded in our hearts forever.
Less than a year on, we are thankfully in a more positive place, due in large part to the success of the vaccination programme in protecting our residents and staff.
The threat of COVID-19 hasn’t gone away of course, and with the flu season on the way, we must look ahead to winter and consider what we can do protect everyone in the home from these two deadly viruses.
That’s why I was delighted when our staff were invited to feature in this year’s winter vaccinations campaign to encourage our colleagues across the sector to take up their jabs. It’s also why I have completed my vaccinator training so I can help vaccinate residents in other care homes.
From hesitancy to faith in vaccination
In the beginning, some of us were hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine due to uncertainty around efficacy and trials. But I’m pleased to say all eligible staff and residents are now fully vaccinated.
For most of us, it was an easy decision to get vaccinated to protect our residents and colleagues, but some staff understandably needed a little more reassurance. I personally had it done to protect residents and set an example to everyone in the home it was safe and the right decision to receive the vaccine.
As nurses and registered managers, we are in prime position to educate and lead by example. Our residents place trust in us to deliver safe, effective care, so it’s important we all take up the jab.
This year, I have already started speaking with residents and staff individually about how important it is they receive the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 booster. We’re also looking forward to welcoming NHS vaccinators into our nursing home again in the coming weeks.
Infections can spread quickly within care home environments and residents are among those at greatest risk. Explaining vaccination’s vital role in protecting them and leading by example are the best ways to promote the uptake of both flu and COVID-19 booster vaccines. The roll out of both vaccines from September to all staff and residents will be essential to a safer winter, a happy Christmas period and a healthier New Year.
Flu and COVID-19 booster vaccines confirmed for care colleagues
Millions of eligible people, including care staff, are now being offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine following advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
The programme is rolling out to the same priority groups as before. Care home residents, health and social care workers, people aged over 50, those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, adult carers, and adult household contacts of individuals with weakened immune systems will be prioritised.
A communications toolkit and range of marketing materials featuring Q&A leaflets, posters, social media graphics and email signatures, have also been launched for providers to encourage health and care staff to take up both vaccines.