Experience report: How the corona vaccination was organized in the nursing home

Christian Berdelsmann

Christian Berdelsmann is 32 years old and works as a care manager in a home in Lower Saxony. As part of the management team, he performs management tasks for all of the employed nursing staff. He coordinated the preparations for the corona vaccinations, which took place at the beginning of January, for 98 residents and the 150 employees of the nursing home. He described to how he experienced it and how the nursing staff and residents fared.

“In mid-December 2020, the Caritas Association, to which we are affiliated, asked us about our interest in a vaccination over the holidays. It was still unclear whether there would be a vaccine for the region. We signaled our interest – Corona has been shaping my everyday work since March 2020.

We in the management team then informed all residents and employees of our house about the offer of the Robert Koch Institute to have a vaccination information talk with a doctor. I thought that was important in case of questions and for general security.

To this day I still miss a better vaccination education

To this day I still miss a better vaccination education. I haven’t seen a major information campaign on Facebook or Instagram either.

Of the 245 people here, consisting of staff and residents, 190 quickly registered for the vaccination. We have recommended the others or asked them to at least get clarification through the consultation. Of these 55 people, around a third did not go to counseling, a third went and later did not get vaccinated. The last third got vaccinated despite previous skepticism after the consultation. It was mainly younger employees. The result made me a lot easier later.

The office sent us the forms for the vaccination participants: That was a vaccination information, the anamnesis with the vaccination consent and a data protection form. We asked family members and carers to do so for residents who cannot sign. On December 22nd we had everything complete.

Obtaining the signatures for vaccination information was a feat

The first setback came at Christmas: We had to have everyone re-sign the vaccination information form. We had received and used one from December 9th, 2020. That was revised and supplemented with further information. We learned: Without a new form there would have been no vaccination for us.

So we had to get all the signatures again: over the holidays, during Corona, when crowds should be avoided. An act of strength, a lot of turmoil and in the end panic for nothing. In fact, the form from December 9th, 2020 was used and accepted up to our vaccination day – and beyond. However, it was communicated differently. Theory and practice don’t go together.

On January 3rd, the health service of our district contacted our house with the dates for the vaccinations. The Malteser vaccination service should come to our house on January 4th for the first appointment. The second vaccination was announced with reservations for January 25, 2021 – if enough vaccine is available. For the first round, the health service of our district created and sent a schedule.

Many in the vaccination team had never seen the inside of an old people’s home

They wanted to start with the vaccinations on January 4th around 10 a.m. Nothing came of that: The vaccination team came with 14 people. Only four were actually planned: a doctor, a “vaccineer”, an administrator for the documentation and a “mixer” for the vaccine. The fact that so many came was due to the many new employees.

They had to be trained on site on vaccination day and briefly get to know our rooms. Many volunteers and newly recruits had never seen the inside of an old people’s home before.

The vaccination doctor on the team wanted to vaccinate all residents in alphabetical order. That was nonsense. We employees wanted a schedule that was based on the routes taken by residents in the house. The vaccination doctor still wanted to proceed alphabetically. It took two hours before a sensible approach was determined. On the other hand, the work was new to everyone. Nobody was rehearsed.

My flu shot threw me a little more off track

At 1 p.m. there was finally the first vaccination. First employees were vaccinated, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. the residents. Three of our employees accompanied the team to the living groups so that the old people had familiar faces around them when they were vaccinated.

This was especially important to us in the living area of ​​people with dementia. Without familiar faces you would have felt like you were in the ghost train. The many strangers with face masks and smocks! Therefore, at my request, the vaccination team only sent the most experienced people to their home area. At the appointment on January 25th, everything will be faster.

I am glad that everything went so well. There was no one who could not tolerate the vaccination. A colleague of mine had brief chills at night. I myself briefly had the feeling of sore muscles in my arm and the next day the impression that I was getting a cold. That was all. My flu vaccination in autumn threw me off course more. “


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