Creating the right environment for people with a learning disability to have their COVID vaccine

In early 2021 health staff in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland found that some people with a learning disability were not having a COVID vaccine because they were finding vaccination hubs and GP practices were not set up to meet their specific needs.

To support people better an area of a vaccination centre was transformed to make it more suitable for people with a learning disability. Specially trained learning disability nurse vaccinators ran the clinics and provided a service tailored to the individual needs of each person, making the necessary reasonable adjustments for each person which may not have been possible in a busy clinic environment.

Sam Screaton, clinical lead for vaccinations for people with a learning disability said, “We knew that many people with a learning disability were extremely clinically vulnerable, so we wanted to make sure that as many people as possible had their COVID vaccine. By setting up this clinic and proactively inviting people to it meant that we could make sure we had the best environment to make specific changes to suit each individual”.

So far the clinic has vaccinated more than 500 people with a learning disability and now holds monthly clinics across all sites to serve the city and the counties. The team have recently developed a mobile team of learning disability nurse vaccinators who are trying to make sure that no one with a learning disability is overlooked.

One family who has benefitted from the service said, “I was incredibly impressed – we had plenty time, it was so calm and as a parent I felt my needs were also being met. I had a phone call before the appointment and another on the day of the appointment which meant that my son was calm and confident when I briefly left the room”.

“Together with the nurses we had prepared a number of potential scenarios and options which could have been employed on the day had we needed them. This was really reassuring for everyone and my son couldn’t wait to show his dad his certificate and his sticker – he could tell that we were all genuinely impressed with how brave he was. Most importantly he is not phased about getting more doses in the future”.

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