Long-term care facility leaders’ response to President Joe Biden’s new vaccination order will help determine how staff react to the new mandate. Therefore, remaining calm and communicating well will be key to complying with the policy and successfully addressing any lingering worker concerns. 

“Staff are watching the response of the leadership team. Although this is a big announcement — and you may not agree or may fear staff will leave — getting upset or angry isn’t going to change the new rules,” the American Association of Post-Acute Nursing noted in a new advisory blog post. “Chaos won’t improve the situation, and it could make things worse.”

The association suggested that leaders get staff together “as soon as possible” to clearly communicate the new requirement and be transparent that there is no current guidance but more information is expected in September, and address any misinformation being spread.  

“Don’t allow gossip and speculation to become the way the news spreads. During this meeting, let staff know their concerns are being heard,” the group advised. “Offer to set up times with individuals to discuss their specific concerns in private.” 

Managers should expect to have one-on-one discussions with unvaccinated staff to address in personal reasons for not getting the vaccine, the group added. Under no circumstances should they “tolerate bullying” between vaccinated and unvaccinated staff. 

The group added that staff who take part should be empowered as champions. 

“By sharing why they are vaccinated — not in a forceful or mean way, but in a way that is sincere and caring — these staff members can help to model the behavior being promoted,” AAPACN wrote. 

Leaders also should be ready for the vaccine rollout and consider developing a task force to address any barriers, like contacting their pharmacy and ordering extra supplies, to prevent logistical errors. 

“There is also a need to have a crisis plan to address potential staffing issues and how vacant shifts will be covered across all departments if employees do decide to leave,” the group concluded.