Newcastle among first places in the UK to vaccinate all care home residents

Following a huge collective effort, built on the strength of the Collaborative Newcastle partnership, over 1,600 care home residents have received their COVID-19 vaccine.

The rapid city-wide vaccination programme means that all eligible care home residents and the vast majority of eligible care home staff have received their first vaccination, covering over 50 care homes across Newcastle and providing vital protection to vulnerable residents.

The vaccination programme was launched on 30thDecember and has been driven by Collaborative Newcastle partners working tirelessly to administer the vaccinations. This kind of approach has enabled the north east to have the highest rates of Covid vaccine uptake anywhere in the country.

Teams of district nurses, GPs, logistics staff and care home staff worked in each venue to deliver the jabs, with the programme being delivered behind the scenes by a partnership of Newcastle GP Services Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle City Council, and Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group.

In total seven teams worked across the city over five working days vaccinating around 15 homes a day.

The dedicated teams have worked in an agile way, focusing on each care home individually to look at the best times to deliver the vaccines and working in cooperation with the care home staff. The care homes described ‘moving heaven and earth’ to accommodate the teams, prioritising the vaccine for their residents; including care homes accommodating vaccine teams during staff handovers, protected mealtimes and shift changes. These are barriers that would have been stumbling blocks if not for the collective desire to protect the vulnerable residents.

Rebecca Haynes, Chief Operating officer from NGPS who led on the care home vaccination programme in partnership with Dr Jane Carman, Clinical Director of Inner West Primary Care Network, said:

“Being able to protect the most vulnerable residents in our communities in less than two weeks has been incredibly challenging but an absolute privilege.

“Care homes, their staff and their residents have been impacted deeply by the pandemic, they have all made great sacrifices and being able to provide them with the protection and a glimmer of hope has been incredibly rewarding.

“We would like to thank every care home, member of staff, GP, nurse, volunteer and resident who has played a critical role in this vaccination programme.

“We are not out of the woods yet and I would urge people to follow the guidance in full, stay at home unless essential and help stop the spread of the virus.”

Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said:

“This rapid vaccination programme is testament to the strength of the public sector working together in Newcastle and really showcases what the Collaborative Newcastle partnership can achieve.

“In less than two weeks we have protected the most vulnerable people in our communities, providing the residents and their families with a sense of reassurance and hope they have longed for. It is also relief for care home staff who have given so much during this pandemic, prioritising the health and care of the residents they work with.

“This is the start of the long road back to normality for our city, a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. If we continue to work together in such a positive, cooperative way we can shape a recovery that benefits everyone in our city whilst protecting our most vulnerable communities.

“I would like to thank every member of staff, health care worker and care home for their role in this programme. We must all continue to do our bit, to follow the guidance and remember the basics: HANDS – FACE – SPACE.”

Jackie Lothian, Home Manager at Fleming Court in Jesmond, which is run by HC-One, said,

“I just wanted to say a thank you to the team who completed the vaccinations in our care home. They were professional, happy and so helpful. It meant a huge amount to our residents who have had such a difficult, worrying 12 months, and the vaccine is an important part of how we are helping to keep them safe.

“We worked closely with the vaccination team to make their visit as simple as possible, their job must be extremely difficult and they are under such incredible pressure – however the way they acted throughout, with smiles on their faces at all times, was amazing.

“We were so grateful that we made them a packed lunch to keep them going throughout the day.

“It was pleasure to work with health professionals like this, good luck to them for the rest of the roll out.”

Elaine McNamara, Directorate Manager – Newcastle Hospitals Community Services, said:

“’From the very start of the pandemic, we’ve worked across the Collaborative Newcastle partnership to support our residential and nursing homes, in order to protect everyone within them. It’s been an incredibly difficult and challenging 10 months, but as a result of the close working relationships, trust and communication we’ve established across the City’s health and social care system and with care home colleagues, we were well prepared and equipped to set up and roll out this vaccine programme in record time.

“It’s a great example of why Collaborative Newcastle exists – to work together to tackle some of the most pressing health challenges facing the City. We’re delighted to have played a part in protecting both vulnerable residents and the dedicated staff who care for them.”

The care home staff still waiting for their vaccination are being offered slots at Newcastle’s new large Vaccination Hub at the Centre For Life.

Collaborative Newcastle, formally launched in Dec 2020, is an innovative and ambitious partnership, seeking to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of everyone in Newcastle and transform the provision of health and social care in the City.

Collaborative Newcastle is an alliance between Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Gateshead NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, working closely with Newcastle GP Services, the GP Federation for Newcastle, Primary Care Networks and the voluntary sector. The scope of the partnership is amongst the first of its kind in the country and is underpinned by a ground-breaking legal agreement between the four key health and social care organisations in the City.

By combining efforts, expertise and resources, Collaborative Newcastle can create and implement more ambitious plans to collectively tackle the most significant challenges facing the City.

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