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Communitas Responds to COVID-19

SATURDAY MARCH 21, 2020

Communitas: Questions and Answers for our Families and Caregivers regarding COVID-19

1. What do I do if I suspect that my family member has COVID-19?

Check for fever, new cough and difficulty breathing. Call 8-1-1 or your healthcare practitioner’s office for guidance.

2. If I am concerned about my family or loved one, who do I contact at Communitas?

Please contact the manager of your program or service for direction. They will know how best to help you. If you can not reach this person, please call 604-850-6608.

3. If I suspect that a loved one has COVID-19, what do I do?

You can complete the online assessment at https://covid19.thrive.health/

Call 8-1-1 for symptom/testing advice and follow the instructions provided by the health authority provider.

Call the medical hotline at 1-888-COVID19 for advice on travel, social distancing, and the support and assistance that is available from the provincial and federal government.

4. What steps is Communitas taking to protect people?

Our Crisis Command Centre is in place and the team is meeting on a daily basis. We are providing regular updates to our staff teams and managers. WE will continue to provide regular updates on our website and we will point you to the daily provincial guidance.

We continue to follow and encourage the directives of the Provincial Medical Health Officer. These directives include social distancing, staying home, adhering to all travel restrictions, adjusting services for everyone’s safety and wellbeing, restricting visitors to our group homes and using telephone and online technology to stay close and ensure support at this time. Where direct help is required, we are ensuring that it is safe to meet and protocols are being followed.

5. Which services are still being supported?

Residential Services: All of the Communitas group homes and staffed specialized 24/7 residential services continue to support the residents who live there. These homes are closed to visitors and community access has been restricted to limit risks. Staff are providing continuity of care for our loved ones.

Day Services:

  • Group Activities:  All group activities have been suspended and staff have been redeployed to provide virtual support through phone calls and skype/zoom virtual meetings.  Daily check-ins ensure that every person we serve is safe, healthy and thriving.
  • One-to-One: A small number of individuals are still being supported through pre-arranged telephone calls and support in open spaces.  When a person does need face-to-face support, universal and pandemic precautions are in place.

Contracted Services: Managers and coordinators are in contact with their contractors on a daily basis.  Coordinators will not be visiting in person with contractors or individuals. Contractors are  encouraged to contact their coordinators with any questions or challenges they are facing.

Vocational Services: All training and/or group meetings have been postponed. Vocational counselors continue to support individuals via phone calls and virtual meetings. Social enterprises have reduced themselves to essential services such as shredding and recycling.

Our staff members and leadership team are committed to your safety and wellbeing through this difficult time. We are also praying that in the midst of this unprecedented crisis, we would find peace in the storm and an abundance of grace. In the name of Jesus Christ, together, we continue to create places of belonging, growth and contribution…for people of ALL abilities.

SATURDAY MARCH 21, 2020

Hello Friends and Family of Communitas,

Two days ago, I shared with our staff some of the beautiful stories that are emerging in this time of unprecedented challenge. I love how the people we serve and our staff members are rising to meet the challenges and are supporting others by going the extra mile.

This week, I celebrated as our Supported Independent Living manager took it upon herself to create a   fourteen-day wellness challenge for individuals with mental health challenges.

Then, I stood in awe as a program director, in less than 12 hours, answered the call and sourced G-tube food for a family that found themselves running short.

Other staff members, finding themselves with freer schedules, put up their hands and volunteered to “go anywhere, do anything.” At the same time, we began receiving calls from others in our community offering to come work for Communitas because they were without their own work.

Another person keeps sending out funny little encouragements that keep us all laughing. The comic relief is deeply appreciated as it helps keep us going during these long days.

Our end-of-the-week story was really one of celebration. It started with a contractor who stepped up and offered to relocate with one of the people they support. It unfolded in the course of the day with program directors, admin staff, coordinators and maintenance personnel working collectively to pull together a home. And it ended with a house that was ready to welcome people by 4:00 pm that same day.

The resiliency and strength of many is inspiring!

Communitas offers essential services and we have heard that reiterated by the Medical Health Officer and by our funders again this week. Through this crisis, staff will keep working, payroll will be processed, bills will be paid and administrative and leadership supports will ensure that our front-line workers are cared for each day.

Though we do not have services happening in our offices, our administrative supports are still available and we have moved to a leaner structure– one that keeps people working AND ensures social distancing for everyone.

We will continue to ensure that all people of all abilities have the support and safety they need at this time.

We believe in the abundance of caution being asked of us by our provincial government. We also strongly believe in the abundance of grace that Jesus offers us.  And to that end we pray that we may continue to provide places of belonging, growth and contribution for you and for people of all abilities.

On behalf of the whole leadership team,
Karyn Santiago
CEO

FRIDAY MARCH 17, 2020

Hello Friends and Family of Communitas,

We are responding to the daily news and the messages that acknowledge that we are living in unprecedented times. Although our risk level in BC is still low, we are all being asked to take immediate steps to ‘flatten the curve’ and to ensure that we slow down the spread of COVID-19.

The leadership of Communitas would like to assure you that we are doing just that. We wish to ensure that both the individuals that receive our services and support, and the staff members that provide the same, can count on timely and effective responses to the unfolding pandemic. We also need your help as we move through these days and as we respond in ways that will not be “business as usual.”

Our executive team: Jeff Hirch, George Jacob, Gillian Viljoen, Karyn Santiago, and Kelly Beaulieu

Last week, Communitas activated the Crisis Command Centre. It is primarily led by our executive team and assigns and addresses responsibilities and actions to various program directors and managers throughout the organization.  As quickly as possible, we are providing teams with the information, guidance, tools and resources that they need to do their jobs safely while at the same time reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

We want you to know that we are monitoring the information we are receiving from our health authorities and government leaders. The executive team is also closely monitoring our own agency and taking steps to ensure people are healthy and not overwhelmed by the current events of COVID-19. And, as we need to, we are taking immediate steps to adjust to the information that we are receiving.

We encourage you to stay grounded in faith. We encourage you to stay vigilant and to continue doing what has already been communicated.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS:

The federal government has tightened the restrictions on travel and we encourage you to read about them at https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-covid-19-1.5496367

GATHERINGS:

As of March 16, 2020, the province has restricted gatherings to 50 people or less. This is being done as an added measure to help slow down the infection rate. We expect that all services will respond to this requirement and that alternative plans are being made in an effort to ensure social distancing.

COMMUNICATIONS:

Please be reminded that the risks associated with COVID-19 remain low and the criteria for testing continues to emerge. We continue to follow the direction of the Public Health Agency of Canada, BCCDC, and our regional health authorities.

We would remind you that if an individual has symptoms compatible with COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • AND has travelled outside the country within 14 days of symptom onset
  • OR has had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19
  • AND no clear alternative diagnosis has been determined by a health care professional

you are being asked to call 8-1-1 or call their local health practitioner’s office for further instructions.

A medical hotline has also been established; the number is 1-888-COVID19. This is a good resource if you have questions about travel recommendations, social distancing, and the supports and assistance that is available from the provincial and federal government.

If you have a loved one or family member receiving support through Communitas, please contact the manager or supervisor with any concerns you have. If there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in one of our programs or services, we will be co-operating with health authorities to provide them with the information they need during an investigation.

We continue to encourage the provincial health guidelines, which include:

  • Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly;
  • Implementing enhanced cleaning precautions in all locations;
  • Following cough/sneeze protocols;
  • Avoiding touch of eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Limiting public movement in community
  • Self-isolating for 14 days if you have been out of the country and have returned after March 12th, 2020.

We are working in partnership with all parties to ensure that everyone is supported and to ensure that the health care system does not become overwhelmed. The public health information that we are following includes:

We encourage you to celebrate the resiliency and resourcefulness that is unfolding amongst us and we invite you to share your stories with us. At a time like this, we are so grateful for the country we call home and the support of such a strong health care system!

On behalf of the Communitas Executive,
Karyn Santiago
CEO