The Sunflower Conversations

The Brighton COVID NHS Mass Vaccination Centre

April 18, 2021 Hidden Disabilities Sunflower
The Sunflower Conversations
The Brighton COVID NHS Mass Vaccination Centre
Chapters
The Sunflower Conversations
The Brighton COVID NHS Mass Vaccination Centre
Apr 18, 2021
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

The Brighton COVID NHS Mass Vaccination Centre, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust 

With up to 3,000 vaccines administered a day, The Brighton Vaccination Centre is the largest hub in Sussex. Staff have received the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training and have been welcoming people through their doors.

With that many appointments every day it is a slick operation. The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for everyone and the NHS want to protect as many people as they can. Clinical Nurse Manager, Susie, explains why it is important that people with hidden disabilities feel at ease, recognizing the Sunflower means that they can offer that extra time and understanding.

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is working with the NHS to support people with hidden disabilities during the vaccine roll-out by providing free Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training and products to NHS vaccination centres.

Hosted by Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.

Show Notes Transcript

The Brighton COVID NHS Mass Vaccination Centre, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust 

With up to 3,000 vaccines administered a day, The Brighton Vaccination Centre is the largest hub in Sussex. Staff have received the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training and have been welcoming people through their doors.

With that many appointments every day it is a slick operation. The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for everyone and the NHS want to protect as many people as they can. Clinical Nurse Manager, Susie, explains why it is important that people with hidden disabilities feel at ease, recognizing the Sunflower means that they can offer that extra time and understanding.

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is working with the NHS to support people with hidden disabilities during the vaccine roll-out by providing free Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training and products to NHS vaccination centres.

Hosted by Chantal Boyle, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

Visit the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower website.

Chantal Boyle:

Joining me today is clinical nurse manager, Suzie Hull, from the Brighton vaccination center. It's a mass vaccination center. Thank you for your time, Suzie. How long has the vaccination center been open in Brighton and roughly how many people are you seeing a day?

Susie Harle:

The vaccination center has been up and running since the third week in January. And we've been open seven days a week. We have seen various amounts of people coming through our doors, from the minimum of 500, to the maximum of 2,800 per day. Some days are quiet, some days are busy.

Chantal Boyle:

That is a huge number of people, isn't it? What hours are you open on those seven days a week?

Susie Harle:

So our first patient we will receive around 08:40 and our last patient's appointment is 07:35 in the evening. That's almost 12 hours a day.

Chantal Boyle:

In total, do you know how many jabs you've done since you opened? Have you been keeping a running total?

Susie Harle:

We have. I think the last count, it was about 56,000, maybe even 60,000 by now. That was the last count and we are about to ramp it up from next week. It's going to get really busy.

Chantal Boyle:

How many staff have you got there working with you?

Susie Harle:

We have quite a massive workforce currently of interesting people, all from different backgrounds, a lot of capping crew. And in total, I think there's probably near on to 200, 250, but dependent on who takes the shifts and some people have got bank shifts, some people have more permanent short term contracts. Depending on the needs we work out needs per pod. If we have 500 patients and we would only need one or two pods, whereas if we had 2,800 people and we would need six pods worth of staff. The staffing levels do vary on a day to day basis. They can be from a basic day of one pod, which was probably about 50 staff to the six pods, which will be a lot more. And they work various shifts during the day.

Chantal Boyle:

Wow. Managing that and organizing those rotors must be quite complex?

Susie Harle:

Yes. Will say yes. It's quite tricky. And lots of new staff, lots of transient staff. Staff that work across various vaccination sites although we are the biggest here in Brighton.

Chantal Boyle:

And you mentioned cabin crew. For people who don't know, how does that happen.?

Susie Harle:

So as you well know, due to the COVID pandemic, we had lots of staff who went on furlough and they were recruited for staffing and they have been a large part of our recruitment drive and they have been amazing. They have such a strong transferable skillset. It's been fantastic from people scales, dealing with difficult situations, taking on new information, delivering a fantastic level of patient care. It's been really lovely.

Chantal Boyle:

That's good. I would imagine that working on an aeroplane cabin crew. That is quite a pressurized environment and it's all about customer service, isn't it?

Susie Harle:

Absolutely. We joke a lot with... We say meeting greet is one of their strengths. And would you like to come this way? And at this mass vaccination center, that's what we need. We need people who are patient and consistent and smiley and calm and presentable. And they've just been brilliant.

Chantal Boyle:

Some flower friendly, which is fantastic. Yes, I can see you've got your badge on there. That's nice for anyone who wears the sunflower to recognize that you've had the training. How has the training gone down? How have your fellow colleagues found it?

Susie Harle:

It's been received very well. I think it's given lots of people food for thought. Something that we take for granted has created a lot of issues around people not being able to communicate with a mask on. It's had a real impact on patient care. I've got to be honest. It's made me quite deaf as well. Put a mask on and you can't hear people and they can't hear you. I think that's without any disabilities. And I found it quite difficult to communicate with people. It's been quite difficult with the mask on and with the benefits of the hip and disabilities, it's made it a lot easier for people to tell us something with official aid. And it's worked quite successfully.

Chantal Boyle:

If somebody has come to you and said, I can't wear a mask because I have a disability, which is preventing me from wearing it, how have you dealt with those situations?

Susie Harle:

We get that every day. We've had three so far today. At the moment, whether it's classed as a hidden disability, it's still a disability and it isn't visual. We're beginning to see the returning cohort of our first cohort, which was the elderly. Lots of people who are over 80, who haven't been out or found it really overwhelming to come here, they put on mask. They can't understand you and they go, I'm sorry love, I'm deaf. I can't hear you. And immediately when they say that we get a nice visor, pop the visor on, take the mask off and they go, Oh yeah. And suddenly they can watch your lips move and they communicate and you can see the relief on their face. There's nothing that replaces a smile. By covering your face up, you lose that smile. You lose that contact.

Chantal Boyle:

It's really important, isn't it? The connection through for your facial expressions is incredibly powerful. Have you seen many people with disabilities coming through your doors and do you see people wearing the lanyard?

Susie Harle:

In our older generation, not so many. Our younger generation, the people that have hidden disabilities, learning disabilities, deafness, just needing a bit longer to process information, dyslexia, acrophobic, or we've seen the younger people wearing the hidden disabilities lanyards. And that's been really helpful. I had recently a son and a mum. It was very clear to me that both of them had issues and we didn't need to talk about them. And I said, can I support you in any way? It stood out to me in the crowd. That nice, bright colored, yellow and green. And so I go over to them and introduce myself, and say, is there anything I can help you with?

Susie Harle:

You want to do that in a positive manner and in a sensible approach. It was quite successful and they were grateful, I suppose. At first, I think they thought, because we're the nurse managers wear this navy with the red, they're thinking, why am I being singled out? And I just say, look, I just noticed your lanyard. Is there anything I can do to help you? And they can turn around and say, I'm fine, or yes, please, or no, everything's fine. I want you to make them feel at ease and a little bit special. Actually, we're there to help them if they have gotten any issues.

Chantal Boyle:

What's the process. Is there queuing outside or how does it work?

Susie Harle:

It takes about 40 minutes, half an hour to go through the process. We would like to see that happen in a timely manner. And so for me, they queue before they get into the center. Because a lot of people turn up late and we try and hold them back so they don't come in any earlier than half an hour from their appointments. That's the first queue. They queue up to go through what we call queue flow. The lanyards are visible there and then they queue up to get their assessment. Then they go up the stairs and they queue again to go into the pods to have their vaccination. So that's one, two, three, four kids.

Chantal Boyle:

Is there a facility for people who have mobility issues to sit down?

Susie Harle:

We have 15 volunteers a day. And especially in our cohort one or any cohort, we have probably about 30 wheelchairs and we have seats at appropriate places. If we identify a queue flow that someone has a hidden disability, we immediately if it's necessary, offer them a wheelchair and a volunteer to stay with them for the process.

Chantal Boyle:

Suzie you've moved to a different location. Can you explain to us what I can see in the background and what that room is used for?

Susie Harle:

I've moved to a different location. I'm in the same room. It's massive. We've got transferable situation here in the Brighton center. This is where life BC, before COVID, people used to come have a little drink or little waiting area. It's now been converted into our briefing room. We come here every morning, sign in, sit down and have a briefing with us, the nurse managers and the operational managers. Just about what's anticipated as the day progresses and what's likely to go on that day and any particular things that happen in that day and any issues we've got. And then we allocate staff accordingly to go and work in a pod. Maybe do drawing up. Maybe vaccinating. Maybe doing the assessment. Maybe observing. Maybe marshaling. Maybe doing queue flow. There's quite a few jobs to devout. We need the two meter distance in as well. That's kind of incorporated into this.

Chantal Boyle:

Are you the biggest one in Sussex?

Susie Harle:

We are. We are the flagship.

Chantal Boyle:

Would you have any advice to any other vaccinations hubs?

Susie Harle:

We are on a giant roller coaster in this COVID pandemic. We need to embrace anything, any help, any advice that anyone can give us to make our job easier. If it means taking three, five minutes to watch a video, talk about it with all your staff, be inclusive, respect others' disabilities. Raise awareness of people not needing to express that they become frustrated that they've got hidden disabilities and they can just simply wear a lanyard or see your badge on your top and be able to express they're feeling and for you to ask those simple questions, like, is there anything I can do to help you? What would make it easier for you? Should I pop on a visor? Just makes life so much easier.

Chantal Boyle:

Do you see ray of hope now as we move towards the summer?

Susie Harle:

I do. It feels really great. For 30 odd years in nursing, we always talked when we had training about a pandemic. And you know what is in my heart? It's there. And I came out of semi retirement to come and help vaccinate the nation, because I felt passionate that this is all road out. And already, when you see on the news that there's now 32 million, 35 million, 36 million, you think, I've actually done something and you can go home and think, I've done my bit. To me every patient's the same and I treat everyone with the respect they need. I think sometimes people just need a little bit more help.

Chantal Boyle:

The hidden disability sunflower is working with the NHS to support people with hidden disabilities during the vaccine roll out by providing free, hidden disability sunflower training and products to NHS vaccination centers.