Like most nursing homes, Colonial Manor in New Braunfels, Texas, faces the challenge of encouraging staff and residents to get COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. It is especially critical if residents go to the hospital or visit family overnight because those residents who are not vaccinated must be quarantined upon their return. By administering vaccines and boosters in-house, Colonial Manor has achieved 100% staff and 98% resident vaccination booster rates since March 2022.
“We were initially focused on trying to get booster clinics in our facility, and then we heard our local pharmacy was going to start sending out the vaccines,” said quality assurance nurse Elisa Villarreal. “I contacted them and we started receiving vaccines March 3, 2022. We started working with the pharmacy and are now able to get vaccines weekly.”
On Mondays Villarreal orders a vaccine vial from the pharmacy, which contains six boosters. “I call family members and let them know we have the COVID-19 vaccines available and that we are able to administer them to their loved one,” Villarreal said. “The fact that we administer them ourselves is a plus for the family members. I also explain the latest rules about quarantine guidelines; if their loved one was out for the night and if they were not up-to-date with vaccines, when they come back they would have to be on quarantine for 14 days. So I focused on our locked units first, to try to get as many of them up-to-date so they would not have to be on quarantine if they were out of the facility overnight.”
Villarreal also talks with families about dementia and the effects of putting someone in a different environment. “Since they are familiar with their loved ones and how their behaviors are, most families prefer them to be vaccinated,” she said.
Each week Villarreal orders a vial on Monday and makes sure she gets six boosters in for the week, including staff and residents, at their 127-bed facility. Sometimes she orders two vials if she is able to encourage enough staff and residents to commit to them.
The TMF Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) aided Colonial Manor in overcoming vaccine hesitancy from staff, residents and their families by continually supporting the facility with educational webinars and follow-up phone calls offering personalized technical assistance. Resources such as the TMF QIN-QIO’s COVID-19 infographic, Q&A: Resistance to COVID-19 Booster Vaccines and Vaccine Clinic Checklist were also helpful.
What was key to Colonial Manor’s success? “I think if we look at the residents and discuss their individual needs, and what benefits them from receiving the COVID vaccine – that’s what works,” said Villarreal. “We also found it important to inform families of the constant changes with COVID. And with staff, it’s constant communication.”
For other nursing home success stories and ideas, visit the TMF QIN-QIO’s website, TMFNetworks.org.