Learning disability charity supports residents to take up the jab
The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus. Having support from peers and trusted professionals and receiving the right information is essential to helping individuals make an informed choice.
Midland Mencap is one organisation that has supported individuals with disabilities to get their COVID-19 vaccination. They recently helped Dean, aged 29 from Walsall, to make an informed choice to have his vaccination.
The charity is taking part in the COVID-19 Community Champions programme run by Walsall for All, Walsall Council and the local NHS. The programme provides funding for community groups to promote the benefits of vaccination to their members and service users.
Helena Whitehouse, from Midland Mencap, described the support that was offered to Dean:
“We initially approached our citizens to raise awareness of the COVID-19 vaccination. However, when we heard from Dean in particular, he was uncertain about whether he wanted the vaccination. There were discussions through wellbeing calls, face-to-face wellbeing walks and Zoom meetings among his peers and staff. He felt he needed time to think about it.”
Using COVID-19 Community Champions funding, the team was able to add an additional layer of specialist support for Dean. This included two information sessions and face-to-face support with the learning disability nurse team from Orchard Hills Centre (for people with learning disabilities or additional needs), where Dean could ask questions about the vaccination, side effects and longer-term health concerns.
Helena added: “As a result of the work we undertook, he agreed to have the vaccine, and the learning disability nurse accompanied him to his first appointment. He was fine and has not had any side effects. His second jab is now booked.”
For Dean, receiving the vaccination means he is able to get back to some normality and do some of the things he had not been able to do for over a year. He was also happy to hear from a health practitioner in one of the information sessions that the vaccine was very effective to protect him against COVID-19.
Dean believes everyone should decide for themselves about the vaccine but says to people to get all the information they need to make the best decision.
Midland Mencap are also running a social media campaign using their Community Champions funding. They have taken photographs and filmed short videos of service users talking about the vaccination and are promoting clear COVID-19 messages so they can share information more widely in their communities.
The charity is also holding information sessions and working with partners in the health sector to tackle misinformation and encourage take-up of the vaccination amongst adults with learning disabilities, autism and other disabilities.
Councillor Stephen Craddock, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing said:
“Thank you to Dean for sharing his vaccination journey and to Midland Mencap for empowering him to take the decision and get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others.
“The interest and enthusiasm that the Walsall COVID-19 champions have shown has been overwhelming. They continue to play an essential role in the sharing reliable and up-to-date COVID-19 information to their families, friendship groups, workplace, networks and wider community.”
Dave Pickard, Head of Community Operations for Midland Mencap, said:
“Midland Mencap is over the moon to be one of Walsall for All’s COVID-19 Community Champions groups. We have campaigned from the outset to ensure disabled citizens across the West Midlands have had the right support, the right information and access to the vaccine at the earliest possible time.”
Midland Mencap hope their important work will enable adults with a learning disability to be part of the Community Champions project and to ensure they represent disabilities of all types throughout the Walsall borough.
To find out more about the work of Midland Mencap in Walsall, contact the Walsall Disability Hub on 01922 616798.
For accessible information on COVID-19 for people with a learning disability, support workers and professionals, visit the Mencap website: https://www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/coronavirus-covid-19
Anyone aged over 18 can now receive their COVID-19 vaccination. For further details on the vaccination and how to book, visit the Walsall Council website: http://go.walsall.gov.uk/covid-19_information/covid-19_vaccination_information