CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) INFORMATION FOR VHA CLIENTS AND FAMILIES

Updated January 21, 2021

VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) remains open for business during the COVID-19 lockdowns in Ontario. As a healthcare organization, it is critical that we remain open to provide much needed services for our clients. Our staff and service providers have the necessary personal protective equipment to provide care safely and they know the infection prevention and control practices to follow. All staff and service providers are required to wear medical-grade masks when providing care and VHA is asking all clients and family members to wear masks during care visits as well. Most of our office-based staff are currently working from home where this is possible for their role.

VHA Home HealthCare is closely monitoring the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation and is carefully following the guidance of Public Health Ontario to ensure all of our clients, families, staff and service providers are protected while we continue to provide necessary care.

COVID-19 VACCINE INFORMATION

VHA Home HealthCare recommends that everyone receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is offered and we are pleased that vaccines are starting to roll out to priority populations.

It is important to know that the government is responsible for deciding which groups get vaccinated first and these decisions are being based on risk. Healthcare workers in hospitals and those working in long term care and retirement homes have started to receive vaccinations and we are delighted that some VHA team members who work in these settings have already been vaccinated. We are also pleased that home care workers are included in the next wave of health care workers to be vaccinated.  We are now awaiting word on when these vaccine programs will be rolled out so that our home care staff can attend. As more supply becomes available, we will see the vaccine offered more widely. At VHA, we hope that soon we will be able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to all of our staff and clients. We will share further information as we receive it.

VHA'S RESPONSE TO COVID-19: KEEPING CLIENTS, FAMILIES AND STAFF SAFE
TELEPHONE TOWN HALL

VHA Home HealthCare is holding a telephone town hall on Tuesday, February 4th, 2021 from 4 to 5PM EST for our clients and families. Please join us to hear updates on VHA’s practices and initiatives to keep everyone safe during COVID-19.

UPDATED MASK USAGE GUIDELINES FOR CLIENTS

VHA Home HealthCare asks all clients, family members and caregivers, who are present for care visits, to wear a mask during visits from VHA’s care providers, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

VHA service providers will provide a mask to clients who do not have one. We understand some clients may be unable to tolerate wearing a mask for health reasons.

When our staff come into your home, it is their workplace. We need to work together to keep everyone as safe as we can.

Thank you for your cooperation and your support of VHA staff and service providers.

The Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) and Home Care Ontario (HCO), the associations that represent home care provider organizations in Ontario like VHA, recently released a report about the success of infection prevention and control (IPAC) in home care settings during the pandemic. Less than 4% of COVID-19 cases were home care related in 5 of the large home care agencies, due to strong IPAC practices.

Click here to read the full report.

 

If you are concerned that you have COVID-19 or that you may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, please call Telehealth (1-866-797-0000), your local public health unit or your health care provider and inform them of your concerns.

If you are a client currently receiving care, please call VHA’s main line at 416-489-2500 and explain your situation – one of our call response agents will be happy to assist you.

VHA’s priority is keeping our clients, families, staff and service providers protected. VHA’s Infection Prevention and Control team is in close contact with Public Health Ontario and other agencies and we continue to follow all recommended infection control measures for home health care. These practices include screening clients for new symptoms, and following recommended protocols on hand hygiene, the proper use of personal protective equipment and the disinfection of equipment.

Please click here for the latest information about who is able to get COVID-19 tests at assessment centres. We respect and protect the privacy of all of our workers. It is their choice whether or not to get tested, and it is their choice whether or not to share those results with VHA or with their clients.

VHA is pleased to now be able to offer virtual care visits for some of our services. Virtual care is any interaction between a health care provider and a client when they are in different locations. During COVID-19 when we are all trying to practice physical distancing wherever possible, virtual care visits provide an opportunity for VHA to provide some services without needing to be in the client’s home.

By using technology, such as the telephone or video conferencing, a health care provider and a client and/or a family caregiver can virtually connect with one another to improve access to care, continue progressing health care goals and can help clients and their care providers to stay connected.

VHA is currently providing some nursing, rehabilitation and hoarding support services via virtual care when it is clinically appropriate. Our virtual rehab services include some physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language services, dietetics and social work services. If you would like to learn more about virtual care opportunities, please contact your VHA service provider or 1-888-314-6622, or click here to learn more about VHA Virtual Care.

Greetings. Let me introduce myself… My name is Kathryn Nichol and I am VHA’s VP of Quality, Best Practice, Research and Education and Chief Nursing Executive. In my role as Clinical Lead for the organization, I had the opportunity and challenge of a lifetime in leading VHA’s Incident Command Team responsible for our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We launched our Incident Command Team on January 24th, put it on pause at the end of June and are ready to relaunch it if necessary. This dedicated team managed and closely monitored VHA’s ability to continue to provide excellent service, the impacts of COVID-19 on our clients and families and on our staff and service providers, personal protective equipment supply and distribution, ever-changing infection prevention and control guidelines and recommendations and of course communications both internally and externally. I can’t say enough about the hard work, dedication and compassion of this 24-member team and how much we all learned.

Click here to read Kathryn’s update on VHA’s efforts.

Most Ontarians are not familiar with wearing a face covering, and they may cause feelings of anxiety and panic (including shortness of breath, which is a symptom of anxiety) in new wearers.  The most effective treatment for anxiety is graded exposure.

Diagram on how to overcome mask anxiety

VHA has received many generous donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cloth Masks during COVID-19. Our thanks to Canadian Tire, Capable Plastic Injection and Mould Ltd., The Fountain of Love and Life, The Lo Family, MDA Corporation, Michael Garron Hospital Foundation, The Sewing Army, We the BOMB Girls and many VHA volunteers.

If you wish to support the ongoing efforts of VHA’s dedicated care providers, we welcome donations of Personal Protective Equipment and Cloth Masks. For further information, please visit VHA’s PPE drive page or contact Sandy Cao at scao@vha.ca or 416-489-2500 ext 4602.

Financial donations to our Simple Comforts Fund, which is used to purchase products and services for clients who are in need of urgent assistance and have limited or no access to funding, are also appreciated. Online donations can be made here.

If you wish to receive regular updates from VHA about our ongoing efforts during COVID-19, please contact communications@vha.ca and we will send updates to you via email.

Please visit Public Health Ontario for further information regarding COVID-19 and measures we can all take to protect ourselves. We appreciate the cooperation of all of our clients and families to help keep everyone safe.

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