Message from Managing Director, Bruce Mahony:
March 24, 2019
I am writing to provide a brief overview of how our Central Toronto office of Home Instead Senior Care is operating senior in-home care services through this challenging time. Although we have been in constant communication with our caregiving staff, we had held off on broadcast messaging to our clients and families, as the COVID-19 situation is new and has been evolving quickly.
To date, we have no clients or caregivers with, or suspected of having, coronavirus. We can also assure you that at this time, while we are receiving inquiries, we are not taking on new clients who are in self-isolation or who have travelled outside of Ontario, in order to best protect our existing clients, caregivers, and office staff.
Communication Is Key
As a Board member of Home Care Ontario, I have been involved in 54 briefing communications to date, related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We maintain a sub-committee of service provider organization executives, that holds a virtual meeting each Thursday morning, to ensure that we are doing the best we can to communicate needs and challenges to the Ontario government. Many of us have been through similar situations, such as SARS in 2003, and due to this, Toronto has experience and sophistication in dealing with this type of healthcare crisis.
When I saw this COVID-19 situation emerging offshore, our office quickly procured buffer inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE). There are protocols for its implementation, which we will follow if/when necessary.
Many of our caregivers travelled outside of Ontario to return home for the holidays. I chose, before it became mandatory, to have them remain home for two weeks upon their return, before we would allow them back within our vulnerable client population. Thankfully, no issues emerged from their travel and for this we’re thankful. We have also been actively screening caregivers and have not been accepting new applicants into our office.
Updates for CareGivers
We want you to know that we have been guiding our caregivers and providing them with updates. Our caregiving staff are certified and trained and we have been sending out constant reminders on best practices and protocols. We also have two very experienced Registered Nurses on staff, who have been providing coaching, guidance, and decision-making. Their expertise and leadership will be pivotal in the weeks to follow. Related to best practices, if possible, can we ask that you ensure that our caregivers are able to wash/dry their hands upon arrival using a soap pump (versus a bar of soap) and paper towels (rather than a cloth towel).
With regard to our office, we consider ourselves to be an essential service for many of our clients and community service-sector partners and, as such, our physical office currently remains open with Lisa and I monitoring incoming telephone calls and delegating tasks accordingly. Our other employees are working remotely on a virtual private network. This allows us to continue to plan collaboratively and best respond to changing community requirements. As the longest-standing operator in Ontario, our office is very well established and we will be able to weather this healthcare and economic crisis.
Premier Ford just announced that only essential services would be allowed to operate, as of 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 24/20. Upon hearing this, I wrote to the Chief Executive Officer of Home Care Ontario, Sue Vanderbendt, to request a definition of essential services. She immediately wrote to the government in order to receive clarification and influence home care being considered essential.
We will not be hand-delivering any correspondence, schedules, or caregiver log notes at this time, but will be mailing any requested paperwork. Supplies, if required, may be dropped off at the door.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.