Like many areas the staff of St Werburgh’s Medical Practice for the Homeless, it has been an incredibly busy time for us administering vaccines on top of our usual work, but we are now pleased to share a brief case study of our practice which has built on our previous work.
In early January we began to lobby the CCG and Local Authority to get frontline housing staff classed as health and social care staff for vaccination priority, in line with some other areas nationally. This was successful, and we distributed this information locally to relevant partners.
We then engaged with the CCG to discuss moving any vulnerable individual into priority group 4 for vaccination. This had also already been done in other locations nationally. The CCG were very supportive, and on the 26th January 2021 this was agreed. We started our vaccination programme which needed to be completed by the 14th February 2021 in line with the national vaccination plan.
We worked with hostel staff and key workers to provide information and education to both staff and residents regarding the vaccination programme and provided posters from Homeless Link to be put up around the hostels. Initially we met a lot of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, and we have worked hard to break this down.
Our first clinic was on the 29th January in St Werburgh’s . Our administration staff inputted all the information onto Pinnacle in practice, and we had great support from 2 PCN volunteers.
On the 2nd February (after preparing the sites in advance) Jane Brown (Practice Nurse) and myself went to the 5 hostels in Chester over 2 days. We subsequently returned over the next few weeks on an ad hoc basis to encourage vaccination in those that had so far refused. We have also continued to run weekly clinics in the surgery, and work closely with support workers and housing to enable individuals to attend vaccination and other appointments.
We liaised with and collaboratively supported the CCG and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (our local community Trust) to vaccinate all those that were accommodated in hotels.
We learnt that we needed to have patience, perseverance and flexibility – core values of how we work in more normal times. There was a lot of vaccine hesitancy and patients often initially said no, but on discussion and sensitive exploration changed their minds. We offered different locations, and a variety of times for appointments to meet the needs of the diverse population. We followed up on appointment DNAs, and rebooked them if they then still wanted the vaccine, or did home visits. We also opportunistically vaccinated those that attended the surgery with people who had appointments for medical reviews. Those that were adamant they did not want it would get frustrated by being constantly asked, so we did find we had to balance that with their continuing engagement with the service as we didn’t want to isolate them.
We have currently vaccinated 150 people and also a number of individuals who are not-registered at the practice, who are currently residing in hotels and asylum seekers.
We are now starting our second vaccines which is proving to be even more challenging!
For more information contact:
Pauline Finlay QN RGN BSc( Hons) NMP
Specialist Nurse Practitioner for the Homeless, St Werburgh’s Medical Practice for the Homeless