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Hospice nurses among first to administer Covid-19 vaccine

Nurses from the Hospice have become amongst the first to administer the Covid-19 vaccine after recently visiting residents at a Hitchin care home.

Tanya Catton and Maddie Kinnar, our Frailty Nurses, administered the first dose of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine to 48 residents and 30 staff at Elmside Residential and Dementia Care Home in Hitchin, one of 17 nursing, care and learning disability homes in the North Hertfordshire area that they offer support to.

Tanya explained:

“It was fantastic to be able to administer the first dose of the vaccine to the residents and staff at Elmside. The occasion was very well organised, everyone was in good spirits and we can’t underestimate the massively positive impact this will have on the residents.

“For them this will, in time, mean the start of more interaction with the outside world and their families, having been massively restricted during 2020. This is of particular importance for those patients with dementia. For example, whilst many residents have adjusted to using electronic devices to communicate with loved ones, many patients with dementia have been unable to understand this, with the lack of physical contact then sadly leading to a quicker deterioration in their condition.

“The vaccination also provides a huge benefit for the care home staff and their families too, all of whom have been on the frontline.”

Vilawan Hawkes, Home Manager at Elmside, said:

Vaccination day was a very special day for all of us at Elmside. It was a day full of optimism and joy with the majority of our residents and staff receiving the first dose of the vaccine. We can now begin to imagine what life will be like as it slowly gets back to normal. Thank you to the NHS and thank you to Garden House Hospice Care for their involvement in this moment of history.

“A special thanks must go to Tanya and the Frailty Team who have been by our side throughout the pandemic providing support, giving us encouragement and helping us get through this difficult time.”

Having received training to administer the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine and Pfizer vaccine and with both now being rolled out, Tanya says the start of the vaccination process has benefits for her and Maddie as nurses too.

“Administering the vaccine has given us a huge feel-good feeling. We are proud to be nurses and honoured to contribute and work during this difficult time. The vaccine vials we used had the number one on the batch numbers, which really drummed in the part we were playing in history and what an impact this will have on people in our community. We can now see the light at the end of a tunnel after a year unlike any other.”

Aside from administering the vaccine, our Frailty Nurses continue to offer support to homes across the North Hertfordshire area, assessing the needs of new and current residents to discuss their future care. The team has also recently expanded with the arrival of a third frailty nurse, Annie King, which means the team can continue to be even more effective in the local community.

Maddie added:

“Our aim is to give frail residents and their families the opportunity to express their wishes and put clear plans in place, while avoiding inappropriate admissions to hospital. We also provide much needed support, education and advice to care home staff working in these busy and pressured environments. We’re proud of the positive and productive relationships we’ve built with the staff. They feel reassured that there’s always someone at the end of the phone they can call for any support and advice they need.

We have a passion for the care of the elderly and count ourselves lucky to have this perfect role. We’ve heard some incredible stories from people’s lives and are constantly learning from our residents. Building special relationships and treating each person as an individual reminds you that they have a past - they have been a child, they have had careers, they may be a parent and have close friends – It’s so important to recognise that they had a life before going into a home.”

Main photo is of Maddie receiving her own Covid-19 vaccination, prior to it being administered at Elmside Residential and Dementia Care Home.

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