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

Updated March 26, 2021

COVID-19 VACCINE INFORMATION

Scientific evidence has deemed approved vaccines in Canada to be safe and effective in preventing infection and reducing the spread of COVID-19. In accordance with the most recent guidelines from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Health Canada for the prioritization of healthcare providers and high-risk populations, VHA Home HealthCare strongly encourages vaccination of all eligible staff, service providers, clients and caregivers to maximize safety and reduce harm associated with COVID-19.

 Where to go for Information: 

  • Prioritization for COVID-19 vaccination is determined by the Ontario government. Further information on prioritization can be found by clicking here. 
  • Information regarding the prioritization of health care workers can be found by clicking this link. 
  • Registration and booking of vaccination appointments is now available for priority populations. Please contact your local Public Health Unit for further information for your region.
  • Ontario’s provincial vaccine booking system is now active. Vaccination for eligible people can be booked through this system at: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ or by calling 1-888-999-6488.
  • In Toronto, eligible people can visit vaccineto.ca or toronto.ca/covid19 or call 1-888-385-1910 to book appointments at local vaccine clinics. Further information about the Toronto COVID-19 Vaccine Website and Call Centre can be found here
  • For VHA clients living in the Greater Toronto Area who are homebound and will require someone to come to their home to give a vaccination, please contact your LHIN Care Coordinator.
  • At this time, limited vaccine appointments are also available through select pharmacies and family doctors in a few regions in Ontario.
  • For region specific information, contact your local Public Health Unit for further information.

Clients have the right to safe, high quality care delivered by VHA staff and service providers. Regardless of vaccination status, VHA staff and service providers will continue to adhere to best practices and infection prevention and control protocols. Vaccination is a personal choice that the vast majority of Canadians agree is part of good health and important for prevention of serious disease, however, getting a vaccine is voluntary. The vaccination status of VHA staff and service providers is considered Personal Health Information (PHI) and therefore is confidential. VHA will not accommodate requests to schedule workers who have received vaccinations and clients and families always have the right to accept or refuse service.

VHA is dedicated to sharing scientific, evidence-based information related to COVID-19 vaccination and access to supporting resources, including vaccine registration information, to promote awareness and vaccine confidence. VHA will continue to follow public health guidance and legislation regarding COVID-19 vaccination.

Personal support worker wearing a mask and face shield

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.

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.

Maria, PSW and her client, Rosalinda

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

VHA Home HealthCare held a telephone town hall on Tuesday, February 4th, 2021 to provide updates and information for our clients and families on VHA’s practices and initiatives to keep everyone safe during COVID-19. 

Press the play button below to listen to a recording of our Client & Family Town Hall.

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.

© 2019 VHA Home Healthcare | © 2019 Soins A Domicile VHA