Engaging Family and Friend Caregivers in COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

Date: March 25, 2021
Time to read: 4 minutes.

Family and friend caregivers of individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid can play an important role in helping the individual access the COVID-19 vaccine, from assisting with appointment registration to accompanying the individual to the vaccination site. SCAN Health Plan (SCAN) recently shared their strategies to understand vaccine hesitancy, combat misinformation, build confidence, and support access to the vaccine among members and their caregivers.

SCAN recently conducted a national survey, polling 1,800 family caregivers, including an oversampling of 400 Hispanic and 400 African American respondents to understand their specific concerns. The results revealed that a large majority of family caregivers harbor doubts about the vaccine’s safety, and that concern is even higher among certain populations, such as communities of color and rural communities. Addressing caregiver concern is essential—caregivers are often involved in helping dually eligible individuals make decisions about and gain access to healthcare, including the COVID-19 vaccine. The encouraging news from the survey is that many caregivers cited both the member’s health plan and providers as trusted sources for information about COVID-19. Plans may consider these strategies, suggested by the SCAN team, to engage with caregivers in order to allay their worries about COVID-19 vaccination and coordinate messaging and education with providers, such as:

  • Utilize existing outreach channels to disseminate key information about the vaccine. This may include virtual forums, support groups, newsletters, and web pages that caregivers are already accustomed to accessing. For example, SCAN posts all of their member-facing materials to their website for easy caregiver access and posts frequent updates with the latest information on COVID-19.
  • Work with trusted community-based organizations. SCAN is conducting targeted outreach to Hispanic and African American caregivers in partnership with trusted leaders in their communities. SCAN is working through senior centers and houses of worship to disseminate up-to-date infographic flyers to caregivers. These flyers are focused on dispelling COVID-19 vaccine myths and explaining what to expect when receiving the vaccine. While some of these community partnerships are long-established, others are newly developed in response to needs and opportunities that arose during the public health emergency.
  • Utilize plain language and images to convey information about the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure that information is understood across diverse communities. SCAN has created and shared infographics to provide information in the clearest format possible.
  • Leverage nurse advice lines and outreach calls for care management and care coordination programs to provide information to caregivers and answer caregiver questions.
  • Communicate empathetically with caregivers and offer support. SCAN staff are trained on information about caregiver burden as well as motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing helps SCAN staff better understand the needs of caregivers so they can effectively address those needs.

Health plans can also support member vaccination by extending transportation to caregivers so that they can accompany the member to the vaccination appointment. This can be especially helpful if the member has a disability or other mobility challenge. To learn more about plans leveraging their transportation programs to facilitate member vaccination, please see our blog post here.

For additional information about supporting caregivers during COVID-19, we encourage you to view the following resources available on Resources for Integrated Care:

If you would like to share your own promising practices for use on this blog, please complete our brief survey here or email us at RIC@Lewin.com.