The NHS in Devon is supporting people with learning disabilities to take up the potentially life-saving coronavirus vaccination.
The UK government’s vaccine advisory committee has said that all people on the GP Learning Disability Register should be invited for a Covid-19 vaccine as part of priority group 6. GP surgeries are contacting people about booking the vaccine.
Recent engagement work, including focus groups with members of our community with learning disabilities, led by NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) suggests that the reasons for vaccine hesitancy locally mirror concerns identified nationally.
Those with learning disabilities who took part in the focus groups felt:
• Information about what to expect at the vaccination appointment would help allay anxieties
• Delivering vaccinations in safe and familiar environments would support vaccine uptake
• Clear information in accessible formats were required.
Acting on suggestions made during the engagement, Easy Read leaflets are being developed and a short film to allay anxieties and support people with learning disabilities to have the Covid-19 vaccination has been produced.
This has been a joint project between Devon CCG, NHS England and The Turning Tides Project. The NHS in Devon teamed up with The Turning Tides Project to better understand how it could support people with learning disabilities to have the vaccine.
The film features ‘Michelle’ and her carer ‘Holly’ who were filmed at Mid Devon Healthcare Primary Care Network’s vaccination site at Lords Meadow Leisure Centre in Crediton. The video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/RF_mB_VDeeE
Dr Rachel Gaywood, Devon GP and Strategic Clinical Adviser for Learning Disability and Autism, for NHS Devon CCG said: “We want to ensure that people from all parts of our community feel able and comfortable to receive their vaccination and we hope that this video which has been co-produced between the NHS and The Turning Tides Project will provide that reassurance. It is especially important that people who maybe more clinically vulnerable are vaccinated. Extra support or reasonable adjustments will also be made at vaccination sites wherever possible.”
When contacted for their vaccination, people with learning disabilities should let their GP or community learning disability nurse know if they need extra support or reasonable adjustments to make them feel more confident about having the vaccine.
“The Turning Tides Project works towards making equal access a reality for people with ‘learning disabilities’ or ‘autism’,” said Jane Williams, Managing Director.
“Tackling unequal access to healthcare is an NHS priority. We were pleased to be asked to work as partners in a regional initiative that seeks to ensure access to Covid vaccination. We hope that the material created is useful.”
Sally O’Donnell, Involvement Officer and Learning Disability Specialist for Devon County Council, added: “This is a great example of collaborative working between the NHS and our learning disabilities community. We hope the video will be shared widely and provide that extra reassurance.”
The NHS has now also published a standard procedure to support a consistent approach to the offer of vaccination to unpaid carers within priority group 6.