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Nurses hoping to encourage staff to have flu vaccination with new 'bee' game

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Nurse innovators at James Paget Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are hoping to create a “buzz” about flu vaccination this winter with a new online game featuring a flu-fighting bee.

The concept for the Flu Bee game, which involves answering questions about flu and vaccination, came from the trust’s transformation team and will be the centrepiece of its staff vaccination campaign this year.

“The game aims to bust common myths around flu and the flu jab”

Joan Pons Laplana

A customised version of the game, created by company Focus Games, is also being made available to all other NHS trusts for a fee and its creators hope many more will use it to boost vaccination rates.

The game, which can be played on mobile phones and laptops in just a few minutes, sees players attempt to build a honeycomb path while trying to dodge “nasty flu bugs”.

If they get enough questions right, they will reach the queen bee and earn “flu fighter” status.

Players can share their success on the game’s leader board and encourage colleagues to play and compete. It also includes information about when and where staff can get their free flu jab.

The game is to be showcased as an example of nurse-led innovation as part of NHS England’s Leading Change, Adding Value initiative, which is overseen by the chief nursing officer.

“We thought that Joan’s idea was really good and agreed to develop a game”

Andy Yeoman

The idea of creating a game came from Joan Pons Laplana, James Paget’s transformation nurse and flu campaign lead, who said he was looking for a simple way to engage staff and was inspired by a similar game about sepsis.

The concept for the Flu Bee itself came out of a brainstorming session with colleagues Maria Harrison and Katherine Mace, while the content is based on the top 30 reasons staff gave for not getting vaccinated last year, he told Nursing Times. 

“The game aims to bust common myths around flu and the flu jab,” he said. “When I was going around the wards last year, staff were saying things like: ‘I’m healthy so I don’t need it’, ‘I’m 12 weeks pregnant so can’t have it’ or ‘I’m allergic to something’.

“This is about trying to give people the facts in a fun way,” said Mr Pons Laplana, who was also behind a series of nurse-led innovations to increase awareness of sepsis earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the trust’s new staff vaccination drive, which will be launched at the end of September, will feature a giant bee mascot and Mr Pons Laplana revealed he would be donning the bee costume himself.

“I went to the NHS Flu Fighter conference in May and noticed that one thing all the most successful campaigns had in common was the presence of a mascot, and that’s why we decided to introduce a mascot for this year’s flu campaign,” he said.

Joan Pons Laplana

Joan Pons Laplana

Joan Pons Laplana

Nursing staff will also be encouraged to don wings and bee antennae and take photos to show they have received their jab. These will be displayed on a “wall of fame” near the staff canteen.

The drive will include setting up staff vaccination stations staffed by “bee soldiers” at the front of the hospital, as well offering a mobile vaccination service.

In addition, it will involve sharing real-life stories of staff who have regretted not getting vaccinated in previous years, added Mr Pons Laplana.

He said he hoped other trusts would adopt the Flu Bee game, which can be customised for other organisations by Focus Games for a fee of £1,000 – not including VAT. 

Andy Yeoman, from Focus Games Ltd, said: “Joan approached us with the idea for a game to help James Paget engage staff with their upcoming flu campaign and persuade them to get vaccinated.

“We thought that Joan’s idea was really creative and happily agreed to develop a game and supporting website for James Paget,” he said.

He added: “We believe that the game might also help other trusts to improve vaccination uptake and so we’re offering to customise the website and game to support individual flu campaigns.”

Focus Games Ltd

Nurses hoping to encourage staff flu jabs with new game

Screen grabs from the Flu Bee game

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