CHIRS has been focusing its resources on client and staff safety. To
date, we have had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at CHIRS. As the
COVID-19 situation evolves, we modify our safeguards based on often
daily directives from the Ministry of Health in order to stem the
transmission of COVID-19. We monitor our Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) supplies, update signage and active screening of
clients and staff, and implement isolation and infection prevention
protocols. Here are some highlights...
sites are closed to the public, phone calls coming into the main
CHIRS number continue to be answered remotely by our Reception
person; we have developed new processes for connecting callers to
the appropriate staff and these processes seem to be working very
staff have been enabled to work from home, reducing their possible
exposure to COVID-19 as well as the exposure to their co-workers and
We keep our
staff informed of changes in health directives. For staff that must
come to a CHIRS site, we continue to emphasize the necessity for
social distancing, screening, and good hand hygiene.
instituted active surveillance at all 3 of our sites. When anyone
arrives at any of our 3 sites, they complete a COVID-19 screening,
which includes answering questions to assess symptoms and to assess
potential COVID-19 exposure; staff also take their temperature.
increased the level of disinfection of commonly used surfaces at
help deal with the effects of stress, our clinical team has made
online and in person resources available to help staff maintain
their mental health and eligible staff continue to have access to
resources through the CHIRS benefits provider.
our residential settings...
Some of our
residential clients are staying with family. With fewer clients on
site, we need fewer staff on site... and when we reduce the number
of people on site we limit client and staff exposure.
actively screened every day.
monitored and screened twice per day for symptoms of COVID-19.
a precaution, staff are wearing surgical masks throughout their
shifts, in conjunction with frequent hand washing and the use of
gloves, gowns, and goggles when needed.
is available at all of our sites. We have a good supply and monitor
our inventory daily.
have been very creative and resourceful in helping clients to
understand what is going on and to cope with new routines. Their
creativity has also helped clients be meaningfully occupied during
day service and community activities...
community-based staff have been providing case management services
via telephone and the internet; this has been a great way to help
clients stay connected while limiting their exposure to the virus.
staff have been meeting with clients through virtual means,
including convening virtual groups.
services staff have been safely producing and delivering boxed meals
and food hampers to clients in need. When available, other needed
supplies are added to these hampers - things like cleaning
supplies, toilet paper, and recreational materials.
developed creative virtual programming, some of which is so
successful and appreciated that we plan to continue it after the
pandemic has abated.
Wellness Committee continues to be active in collecting and sharing
resources that support staff to stay physically, mentally,
emotionally, and spiritually well.
Our senior management staff and Board of Directors...
COVID-19 Implementation Team are in contact with each other daily,
responding quickly to new developments and directives.
personnel continues to be in regular contact with staff who are
self-isolating; many of them have already returned to work after
obeying directives for those who returned from travel outside the
country or for those who were not feeling well.
Management team distributes a daily update to staff and the CHIRS
Board of Directors, summarizing the day's key events and
information, as well as resources to support CHIRS staff and their
updates keep staff informed and connected, but they don't allow
for interaction. The response? A CHIRS Town Hall via the ZOOM
meeting platform. We hosted 2 pilots and were so pleased with the
staff involvement that we are planning additional sessions.
The CHIRS Board
of Directors are in regular and close contact with the Executive
Director regarding Ministry directives and other important material;
in additional ways they support the safe and effective functioning
of the organization.
are so encouraged by how well our clients have observed the "stay
at home" protocol; their efforts not only keep them safe, but
contribute to the safety of the wider community.
thank our families for their patience and understanding in
not visiting the residence; we know how difficult that is and how
much restraint must be employed.
We also thank
the families that were able to take their CHIRS client/family member
home; we know that having them there can be a comfort and it helps
our efforts to manage the situation.
received many donations of food supplies for our hampers being
distributed to clients in need and recreation materials for clients
isolating at home, often without access to the Internet. We have
also received monetary donations to support our work. We thank all
of those individuals and businesses; your donations have helped to
make a difficult situation more manageable.
have received so many well wishes and positive feedback from
families and friends of our clients...
CHIRS has been magnificent and I'm so very
grateful. The phone calls are great, and the food basket is eagerly
anticipated and enjoyed thoroughly. Also a great chance to see the
deliverer in person!
My son is responding well to the blitz of support that he is
receiving from you and the other staff. So: THANK YOU!!
CHIRS has been effective in quickly enabling
staff to work remotely with the necessary tools to be productive...
What is amazing is how in such a short period the staff has adapted
to the new world. Not only are staff helping clients adjust and
cope while they are dealing with their own anxiety and facing the
real potential of compromising their own health... CHIRS has been
proactive at recognizing that limiting contact is critical... So many
staff are long time employees and really do know the clients so
understand what will work for each. A priority has been
limiting TV and the negative news loop which raises anxiety...
clients are now doing a daily stretch and relaxation session.
For our family, staff are supporting daily FaceTime calls so that we
can include our pets to entertain our family member... On these
calls I can see he is happy and relaxed and for a guy who doesn't
like to be locked down this is very comforting. We know this
has everything to do with his being in a supportive and understanding
We thank them all for those encouraging words.
We are so very proud of our staff and know that they are doing a
remarkable job...and when we hear those same compliments from others,
it feels very good.
is a link to what the Ontario government is doing to stem the
transmission of COVID-19. You can check there any time for the most
In response to the emerging situation with COVID-19, CHIRS is making some temporary changes to programming:
- The CHIRS Clubhouse is closed until further notice
- All community programs are cancelled until further notice
- Outreach clients can connect with staff by phone instead of in person. If you need medically necessary or essential outreach support, please contact your primary worker to discuss options.
- No new admissions to any CHIRS service
- Residential outings are cancelled, unless medically necessary
- Visits to CHIRS Residences should be avoided. If you need to visit a CHIRS Residence for any reason please contact a Service Coordinator or Manager before doing so
- The Neuropsychology Clinic will be closed until further notice. If you have an Assessment scheduled with the clinic or an appointment scheduled with Dr. Lemsky, Dr. Busse, or Dr. Bolshin someone will be in touch to make a plan.
Over the last few weeks we have been closely monitoring and responding to the situation surrounding COVID-19 and we felt, at this time, it was necessary to enact the next stage of our pandemic plan. We always take Infection and Prevention and hand hygiene very seriously because we want to help keep everyone as healthy as possible. It is apparent that this new virus is spreading quickly and we want to do our part to keep our clients and those in our community healthy and to help slow down the spread of the illness.
Our staff are still available to help you. Please feel free to contact your worker or any CHIRS staff by phone if you need to speak with someone.
This was a difficult decision to make as we did not want to disrupt services to our clients and families but everyone's health and safety is our primary concern and we wanted to act with the utmost precaution.
Thank you for your understanding.
If you would like any additional information please see Public Health Agency of Canada's report "Community-based measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Canada".
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