People with learning disabilities offered extra support to receive vital covid-19 vaccines

23 February 2022

NHS Staff at Southern Health have been working with colleagues across the wider health and social care system across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to help people with learning disabilities to ensure they get support to receive their covid vaccinations.

4822 (75%) of patients with learning disabilities, have received their first, second and booster vaccination, many of whom have been supported by the Strategic Health Facilitation team and Community Learning Disabilities teams at Southern Health ensuring that reasonable adjustments are in place to enable them to have the vaccine.

Melanie Webb, Consultant Nurse Learning Disabilities, describes the work undertaken to support them.

“Working collaboratively with colleagues across the wider health and social care system including GPs and clinical commissioners, we were able to support increased access to the vaccine. We worked directly with service user and carer networks, developing accessible documentation, and proactively supporting those individuals who hadn’t had their vaccines to ensure that reasonable adjustments were in place. Our teams have worked directly with vaccination hubs and primary care colleagues to support flexible approaches and bespoke person centred arrangements including desensitisation plans including administration in a wide variety of settings“.

Marta Coates, a strategic health facilitator, talks about the type of support being offered

“We have been supporting 21 year old man who has a complex presentation, including epilepsy and a severe learning disability, sensory issues and anxiety. We created a personalised plan to support him receive his vaccines without distress, taking into consideration all sorts of factors that were explored within our learning disability expertise and with support from the parents. Developing an individualised approach which included a range of reasonable adjustments he was able to have his first vaccine in his parents’ car, with support from his parents. By the time he came to having his covid booster he felt more relaxed and actually rolled up his sleeves and allowed the vaccines to be given.  He even had his flu jab at the same time. 

His mum was delighted with the support she had received “I do think that the fact I knew Marta from before when trying to sort out a blood test for my son, made it much easier for me to approach her again.  She certainly smoothed the way and staff at the GP practice and vaccination hub were fabulous at chasing up the correct prescription and for co-ordinating the flu jab.  Incidentally – this was the first time  he has been able to have the flu jab! This has been such a positive experience and the kindness and support we had made a huge difference. Knowing my son is now protected against covid and the flu virus is a great weight off my mind. You are amazing and so supportive, and I have to say that is wonderful for us special needs parents”.

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