Phoenix House support Clayton to make his choice about the COVID Vaccine

April 7, 2021

Throughout the COVID pandemic, the team at Phoenix House, a Consensus Supported Living service in Kettering, Northants, have been helping the individuals they support to understand the virus and its impact, using resources such as easy read posters and social stories to aid in explaining various virus- related topics, as well as the ongoing COVID restrictions.

News of the launch of the vaccine program in December 2021 was welcomed by the team as a sign of hope that life would soon be able to return to normal, however, for Supported Living services such as Phoenix House, who are classed differently to care homes, it was also a nervous time, waiting and wondering when and if they would be offered the vaccine.

It was with great excitement and relief, when over the months of February and March, invitations to have the vaccine started to filter through for both the support team and the individuals they support.

Clayton was the first supported individual from Phoenix House to be invited to have the vaccine.

To support Clayton with making a choice about whether he would like to have the vaccine, the team used social stories and his communication tool, which was designed by the Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) team at St Mary’s Hospital in Kettering and his support team at Phoenix House, to help him communicate his daily wants and needs.

With the help of these tools, Clayton was able to express his wish to have the vaccine and to gain an understanding of what that would mean for him in the long run.

The team also carried out a mental capacity assessment and had a discussion with his Dad so that he was aware of Clayton’s choice and how the team were going to support Clayton before, during and after his vaccination. The team also spent time discussing what was going to happen on the day with Clayton, giving him lots of reassurance.

Clayton was keen to learn about the team’s personal experiences of having the vaccine and their insights helped him to feel reassured and confident. He was particularly interested to know whether the support team had been brave. Some members of the team said they had, while Manager, Debbie admitted, “Not so much,” which Clayton found hilarious, declaring, “I’m definitely going to be brave!”

In preparation for Clayton’s appointment, the team organised the Rota so that Clayton’s support team could accompany him to the vaccine centre. He was very excited and was telling everyone, “I’m having my jab today!”

All of the team were giving him lots of encouragement as he set off and it was a very exciting and a happy moment for everyone, knowing that he would soon have some protection against the virus.  

At the vaccine centre everything went smoothly and when it was Clayton’s turn, he immediately went straight over and had his vaccination with no problem. On his return to the service, the whole carpark rang out with the sound of “I was brave, I was brave.” Everyone at the service greeted him back warmly and he was very proud of his achievement.

Clayton suffered no reaction to having the vaccine and is looking forward to life returning to normal as quickly as possible. Several of the other individuals supported at Phoenix House have also taken the vaccination in their stride including Katie, Jamal, Gemma and Craig who were all fine with it. Most of the staff have now been vaccinated and everyone at the service is doing extremely well.

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