The end is in sight – we hope. Residents and staff (and hopefully soon designated visitors!) are receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations. And rightly so. They have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. But with this good news, also comes the need for a large coordination and communication strategy for each home. Keeping residents, their families and staff informed of continued COVID-19 testing regimens, alongside gaining vaccination consent, and a two stage vaccination process, requires a very targeted and organised communication.
It’s a lot.
What information should you be sending to residents and their families and when? What about staff? The following is intended to help you develop an actionable communication plan to bolster your facility’s vaccination communication and coordination plan.
Educate Your Community
No matter the intended audience, providing education on the benefits (and any potential side effects) of the vaccine is essential. Care England and Age UK have some great resources to help get the conversation started. Normalise the practice of vaccination by reminding your care community that it is not their first vaccine, and the process will be similar to inoculations they have received in the past and that the shot is safe, easy and effective.
Resident Family Communication
The UK government remains on course to meet its target to offer a vaccine to all those in the phase 1 priority groups by mid-April. Care home residents and staff are in risk group 1, yet discussion around the delays of the second dose will raise concerns among resident families.:
- Information providing each resident and/or their representative education on the vaccine
- The method by which consent from the resident or their representative will be obtained
- Offer to hold a care conference to address concerns and questions. For example, about the repercussions of refusing vaccination
Sample Messages For Resident Families
- Hello. Our facility will be administering COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and employees on DATE and DATE. If you are interested in your loved one being vaccinated, please contact the Director of Nursing as soon as possible.
- Good afternoon family and friends. All residents who consented to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have now received their first dose. Currently, all residents are doing well and are not experiencing any adverse side effects. The second dose will be administered on DATE. If your loved one has not been vaccinated yet, there is still time for them to receive their first dose. Please contact a member of the Nursing management staff to learn more. Thank you for your continued support.
Similar to your residents, staff need to be provided educational materials about the vaccine, how to provide consent, potential repercussions for refusing, and which dates vaccination clinics will occur and how to sign up for them. On top of all this information, it will be imperative to think ahead and keep your staff informed about the following:
- As with any vaccine, there is a risk of side effects. Some staff may need to take absences should they experience a strong reaction. Having a staff shortage coordination plan can help mitigate last minute shift openings
- Additional staff may be needed to monitor and manage side effects that the residents may experience post-vaccination
- Ensure times and dates are communicated well in advance to ensure there are multiple opportunities for each shift to be vaccinated
Sample Messages For Staff
- Great News! We have received dates for our COVID-19 vaccinations! The first vaccination date is DATE, 2021 from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. You must be pre registered to receive your vaccine. Please see HR for the necessary forms and return them by X date. The second date for the first round of vaccination is DATE, 2021.The second dose of the vaccine will be administered on DATE, 2021.
- We have our first clinic dates for the COVID-19 vaccination. The first will be on DATE from 9 am to 5 pm. You need to make management aware by DATE if you are going to receive the vaccination or not. ALL STAFF must sign their consent or declination prior to DATE. A reminder, that this vaccine can save not only your life, but our residents and your loved ones.
- Happy Vaccine Day Team! For those who signed up to receive the vaccine, please come during your scheduled appointment. It is recommended you wear a short sleeved shirt. It’s not too late to get a vaccine if you haven’t signed up yet. There are open time slots between 1-3 pm. Looking forward to seeing you there!
- Good afternoon! Congratulations to each staff member who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! The second dose is scheduled for DATE. If you have not yet received your first dose, there is still time. Please let your manager know if you would still like to receive the vaccine. Yesterday’s COVID-19 testing results are still pending, and we will be testing again tomorrow from 8 am to 2:30 pm. Enjoy your day!
As has become standard in the past 12 months, circumstances can change at a moment’s notice; whether it’s on a federal, state or county level. New questions and concerns will arise, so keep communication frequent and transparent to help your residents, their families and staff navigate this new phase as best they can. By setting expectations early, you can keep an open dialogue while minimizing anxiety, and most importantly, finally sharing good news.
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