Nursing homes in Barrow are to trial a new way of delivering COVID-19 and flu jabs to residents and staff aimed at increasing vaccine uptake and relieving pressure on local primary care teams.
In a nationwide first, nursing staff at four homes in the town have been trained to vaccinate residents and staff, meaning they can be given at any time and by staff working in the home already who are familiar to the people living and working there.
It is hoped the move, which is being piloted at homes run by the Risedale Nursing Homes group, could pave the way for a new way of providing the life-saving vaccinations across the country.
Carole McCann, lead nurse for the Lancashire and South Cumbria vaccination programme, said: “We are delighted to trial delivering COVID-19 and flu vaccines in this way to a very vulnerable group of people and the workforce that supports them.
“We have a nursing workforce right there in nursing homes which is best placed to vaccinate the residents. By providing additional training, residents and staff will be able to access a vaccination at a time and place that best suits their needs.
“Many people may be living with dementia or other long-term health issues. We hope the vaccine being given by a member of staff who is familiar to them and who knows their unique needs will improve their vaccination experience.
“This will also support the local primary care teams who will have some valuable time back to focus on other vital health needs within their GP practice.
“We also hope that by providing the vaccines to homes to be delivered at their convenience, we can encourage uptake of the vaccine among staff.”
Sam Sherrington, national deputy director of community nursing, visited Lonsdale and St George’s Nursing Home in Albert Street to witness the vaccinations taking place.
She said: “This innovative approach to the winter vaccine campaign successfully utilises the unique bond between residents and the brilliant trained, confident and competent nurses in the care home. I saw first-hand that this approach results in a higher vaccine uptake in both care home residents and staff members, a huge congratulations to the Integrated Care Board and the team.”
Barbara Johnson MBE, director of nursing at Risedale Nursing Homes, said: “It makes perfect sense for our staff to be given the training to deliver these vaccinations themselves, further enhancing the relationship between staff and residents and freeing up vital NHS resources.
“We are pleased to be the first nursing homes in the country to do this and hope we can set a real precedent for the rest of Lancashire and South Cumbria and indeed the UK.”