Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s (LPT) specialist learning disability Covid-19 vaccination clinics have been shortlisted for a Nursing Times Award in the Learning Disability Nursing category.

The clinics, held at the Peepul Centre in Leicester, ran from the end of February to May and helped protect over 350 people with learning disabilities and autism from Covid-19, who couldn’t be vaccinated in the normal way, by providing patients with a comfortable, specially adapted and safe environment to get their vaccine.

One of the first Covid-19 vaccine clinics of its type to be set up in England, the innovative vaccine sessions were part of the wider vaccination effort in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. They were set up quickly and proactively to provide a supportive and relaxed setting for patients, making a number of adjustments and using longer time slots and specialist distraction techniques. Patients’ carers were also able to get their vaccine at the sessions.

They were staffed with a variety of learning disability nurses, support workers, doctors, volunteers and administration support staff, all of whom went out of their way to make it as easy as possible for people to be vaccinated.

Mark Roberts Assistant Director for the Families, Young People, Children’s Services and Learning Disabilities at LPT, said: “The clinics were so unique and special because the people who organised and help to run them went the extra mile to ensure appointments were tailored to individuals and the environment was calm, quiet and supportive. Sessions allowed extra time for patients, so they didn’t feel rushed, uncomfortable or unnecessarily anxious. Everything from entry to the building to the vaccine distraction techniques used were so carefully thought through and executed. The passion of everyone who worked there was so obvious to see.

“There were some real magical moments to make patients feel safe enough to receive the vaccine during the sessions: we had doctors shining shoes and tap dancing, nurses doing flash mobs and even administration staff dressing up as superheroes.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the team that made these sessions happen. I know the parents and carers of the patients – and patients themselves – gave us some wonderful feedback too. The team is so deserving of this award and recognition. No matter what happens we are winners in my eyes.”

The winners of the 31st Nursing Times Awards will be announced at an evening ceremony in London on Wednesday 27 October.

A short video clip of some of the staff and patients who had their vaccine at the learning disability clinics is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hxp2-Gnhu1Y