The development of a viable COVID-19 vaccine was by far the most exciting and promising moment of 2020. However, for the vaccine to have its intended effect and help long-term care and senior living communities return to normalcy, we must see a “strong uptake of the vaccines,” reported Dannielle Brown for McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. And while the good news is that 95% of nursing home residents are taking the vaccine, recent data shows that a significant number of frontline workers are hesitant.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently shared that 3 in 5 nursing home workers in the state have declined to receive the vaccination and another study found that nearly a quarter of Indiana nursing home and assisted living workers planned to do the same. Based on this, it’s vital that providers take the time to educate employees—taking their questions, listening to their concerns and equipping them with the facts.
Through their #GetVaccinated campaign, AHCA/NCAL has created a collection of resources for educating staff on the importance of getting vaccinated, tips for boosting participation and strategies for getting a proper headcount to prevent vaccine waste. Additionally, several AHCA/NCAL Workforce Committee members have shared what their organizations are doing to encourage staff members to take the vaccine.
Incentivizing staff with gift cards and the like seems to be a popular method. One provider even shared that if enough team members participate, the lot will be entered into a $5,000 drawing. Since this is a regional promotion, it creates friendly competition and encourages participation across their six facilities. Other providers are giving staff goody bags upon inoculation with hand sanitizer, coffee mugs and other company swag.
One committee member said they put together a “selfie station,” where staff can capture a picture post-vaccination and share it on social media to increase awareness. This provider also created a heartfelt video message, which they say motivated much of their 80% vaccine consent rate among staff.
Organizations like Brookdale have also shared what they’re doing to boost vaccine acceptance. They have been holding “COVID vaccine parties,” providing cake and candy canes to those who take it. And during a recent Argentum webinar, Brookdale Senior Living Senior Vice President of Clinical Services Kim Elliott, MSN, RN recommended providing educational sessions with medical experts for employees to ask questions and get the facts. This helps put concerns at ease and creates “a culture of vaccine acceptance.”
Many are sharing videos of their leadership team getting the vaccine and others are even enlisting the help of celebrities to communicate the importance and low-risk nature of getting vaccinated. For example, Indianapolis-based American Senior Communities created their “Gimme A V!” campaign, which includes a series of targeted commercials that feature Quinn Buckner, former professional basketball player, Olympic gold medalist and the voice of the Indiana Pacers. You can watch it here. Similarly, using our software, OnShift has collaborated with numerous customers to help them better understand their employees’ willingness to get vaccinated and deliver educational information on the importance of getting vaccinated.
Other partner associations outside of AHCA/NCAL have also put together their own libraries of resources for educating staff on the importance getting vaccinated including: LeadingAge and Argentum, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s long-term care facility toolkit that can be used as a guide when preparing communities for their COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Are you doing anything creative to encourage and incentivize vaccine participation at your community? Feel free to share them with me so we can keep the conversation going.