In March, we held a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Share HQ in Clapham Junction for our students, their parents and carers. Getting the jab can be a stressful experience and many people struggle in a traditional clinical environment. Working in partnership with local GPs and NHS Wandsworth, we hosted the clinic in our immersive learning space, a special interactive room to create a tranquil atmosphere using projected images and playing restful music.
We’re grateful to NHS Wandsworth and to local GP Dr Nicola Williams, Nurse Tor and Nurse Caren who came along to administer vaccines, providing friendly reassurance and making the experience remarkably easy for many students. Dr Williams said, ‘We were so pleased to vaccinate over 30 young people and their parents at this special session...We reassured everyone attending that they would hardly feel the jab and if it is done quickly it does not hurt.’
One of our students Chris explained, ‘You can get nervous, but if someone explains then you know what will happen. Sometimes people don’t know what’s happening and then it’s scary. It was better having the vaccine at Share, it was easy and calm. I saw a piece of paper and they talked to me. You look away and you don’t feel it.’
Sandra’s son Brandon had the jab too, she said, ‘Amazing, I just can't believe it! After all these years of my son being terrified of needles and tests, this has worked! I am so thankful to Share and the NHS. Due to this wonderful vaccination clinic set up in soothing surroundings he had his jab with no problem and I am so relieved and grateful. I am so happy knowing he has protection. I am going to have it [the jab] now too.’
Annie McDowall, Share’s CEO commented, ‘Our first sensory vaccination clinic was such a success we are planning to hold another one. For people with learning disabilities the surroundings are so important to ensure it minimises any stress. Together with the NHS we set up virtual projections with wonderful distractions such as swimming turtles and calm music. This was a very happy day for us.’
Naomi Good, Patient Engagement Manager from NHS Wandsworth said, ‘I am just so proud to be part of this. From holding our engagement sessions online an idea was sparked and our local GP together with Share made this a reality. This shows the power of listening and working together with our patients to make sure any barriers to healthcare access can be overcome. The power of the arts in healthcare is very important, can save lives and something we hope to take forward following the pandemic.’
Anyone who is on the GP Learning Disability Register is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.
We’re planning a follow up clinic for people to receive their second dose.