Handling COVID-19 Vaccines for Nursing Home Residents with Cognitive Impairment

As the COVID-19 vaccines are distributed across the country, residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be among the first Americans to receive them, according to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But what if residents have cognitive impairment or dementia and their family members are required to step in?

 

It’s crucial for older adults in long-term care facilities to understand the details of the vaccine in order to consent to receive one. But if consent is not possible, how will these facilities provide the necessary information to the guardian or conservator in a timely manner? And what happens if the surrogate does not agree with their elderly loved one’s decision to receive a vaccine?

 

As nursing homes and other long-term care facilities nationwide grapple with these concerns, they are faced with a sense of urgency. Residents at these facilities continue to succumb to the virus. Meanwhile, viral outbreaks are increasing, and staff members are overwhelmed. Therefore, there isn’t much time to answer questions from residents and have conversations with their families.

 

Although each vaccine manufacturer provides detailed fact sheets including the known benefits and risks, industry leaders and facility operators are concerned with making sure elderly residents and their families have a strong understanding. Some operators have developed communication plans regarding the vaccine and have already put those plans into motion, while others are not as prepared.

 

Certain long-term care facilities that have conducted videoconferencing sessions for residents and their families have placed a primary focus on communicating the extensive process of studying and testing each vaccine as well as the extreme effectiveness they have proven. Although this is to a much larger scale, most of these facilities have similar experience providing information and receiving consent to administer flu vaccinations each year.  Syringe

 

Many nursing home and long-term care facility operators and staff across the country understand the urgency and the importance of leading the way out of this crisis.

 

Read the full article from Kaiser Health News.

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