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Supporting international research into COVID-19 vaccine distribution for elder care

As part of our commitment to improving the lives of older people, their families and communities, Standards Wise International is proud to have supported the Global Ageing Network’s (GAN) research into COVID-19 vaccine distribution for elder care.

The study, Cross Cultural Snapshot of the Vaccine Distribution: A Provider Perspective, explores the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine acquisition and distribution to ageing service providers in the United Kingdom and 11 other countries.

It examines how elder care providers in these countries managed the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for older adults and staff in residential settings such as nursing homes, group homes, and assisted living. Information was also gathered on older adults living in the community who receive home and community-based services.

At its recent launch, the head researcher, Emi Kyota explained her team spoke to Providers to understand whether the existing vaccination rollout plan was effective, and how vaccinations were acquired and administered.

The key themes which arose were:

  • Vaccination plans and preparation
  • Vaccine availability
  • Vaccine delivery and administration
  • Vaccine acceptance
  • Outreach and communication
  • Policies and guidance.

The key findings of the report were as follows:

  • That vaccine supply and scheduling was unreliable
  • That strong leadership was vital
  • That elders living in community-based settings faced additional challenges
  • That the rationale for prioritisation was often unclear
  • That preparing residents to be vaccinated was challenging
  • That staff vaccinations caused care-related challenges
  • That staff were receptive to misinformation
  • That National Health Systems influenced the success of vaccination programmes
  • That inequalities were real.

Dr Kyota pointed out middle and low-income countries began their vaccination programmes at a slower rate than high income countries, and the most used vaccines were those produced by Moderna, Astrazeneca and Pfizer.

She highlighted the key lessons as:

  • The importance of leadership
  • Vaccine access was easier for elders in residential settings than those in the community
  • That vaccine acceptance was lower amongst staff than residents
  • Inequity
  • Ethical considerations.

The recommended next steps are:

  • Further research to update providers’ status on vaccine strategies in terms of equity, ethical and mental health
  • Collect more information from a larger and more diverse sample
  • Faster, stronger collaboration.


UK rollout

In the UK, data was collected from 462 residents in 7 care settings, and 5,861 residents in 114 care settings.

Speaking at the launch, Vic Rayner, Executive Officer of the National Care Forum in the UK highlighted older people and care staff were put in category 1 (priority) when the vaccination programme began.

“A lot of vaccinations were done onsite, and there was flexibility around who could carry out vaccinations (e.g. it did not need to be a patient’s registered doctor),” she said. Furthermore, the vaccination programme was heavily financially incentivised.

Remaining care staff were in priority level 2, and their vaccinations were largely carried out at community vaccination centres set up in venues such as sports stadiums, and there were early challenges regarding booking appointments.

“This situation led to a ‘2 tier approach’, and care home residents and staff have a high take-up of vaccination, followed by homecare staff,” she said.

In May 2021 vaccination for care home staff became mandatory. Vic pointed out this has been a destructive policy with many staff leaving the sector.

“Take-up of the third ‘booster’ vaccination has been lower; some of this has been caused by the Omicron variant which meant that some people had to delay their ‘booster’ appointment,” she said, and pointed out the UK Government is continuing to work on the reluctance of some parts of the population to be vaccinated.

In the report, it was noted the UK had good practice in its Vaccine Preparation Procedure and reaching out directly to elders by phone to set up their vaccination appointments. However, a UK provider discussed the need to make vaccine related educational materials more sensitive to cultural issues that might affect vaccine acceptance.

In addition, the report noted in the UK, the Netherlands and Spain, elder care associations played an important role in distributing vaccine-related resources.

Click here to download the full report.

Commenting on the report, Katie Smith Sloan, Executive Director of GAN says: “As this important study makes abundantly clear, we have much to learn—and even more to improve—as we work toward creating a world in which no older adult is left behind.”

Standards Wise International Managing Director, David Stevens, said: “We share a passion for promoting learning and collaboration to ensure the safety and quality of life for those with fewer resources who are vulnerable and marginalised. In doing this, we create standards that promote higher levels of achievement and excellence in pandemic management, senior living, home care, human rights, healthy ageing, and well-being for Indigenous communities.”

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