COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION FOR VHA CLIENTS AND FAMILIES

Updated September 21, 2021

UPCOMING CLIENT AND FAMILY TOWN HALL

We know the pandemic continues to be very concerning for everyone and we understand you are worried about your own health and the safety of your family. On Tuesday, October 5, 2021 from 11:00AM to 12:00PM, VHA Home HealthCare invites our clients and families to join us at a town hall.

During the town hall, clients and their families will hear hear updates on VHA’s move to mandatory vaccination and other initiatives to keep clients, families and staff as safe as possible and get answers to your pre-submitted questions about VHA’s response to the ongoing pandemic.

If you would like to submit a question, learn more about the event, or have difficulties registering then please email communications@vha.ca or call 416-280-8426.

We hope you can join us!

COVID-19 VACCINE INFORMATION

Effective September 7, 2021, VHA Home HealthCare is implementing a mandatory vaccination policy for all VHA staff, service providers, volunteers and students. This is in line with a requirement from the Ontario Ministry of Health that was announced on August 17, 2021 for all home care agencies and other health care organizations. This action is considered necessary to protect everyone from COVID-19 because of the spread of the dangerous Delta variant and because of increasing case counts. Further details about the government’s guidelines can be found here.

With this policy all VHA staff, service providers, volunteers and students must provide proof of one of the following requirements:

  • full vaccination (2 doses) against COVID-19; or
  • a medical note with reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19; or
  • completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational program.

In addition, anyone who does not provide full proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to do regular antigen testing.

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, 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.

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 follow the most recent Ministry of Health COVID-19 Guidance for Home and Community Care Providers as well as Public Health & Health Canada guidelines. This includes the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) regardless of vaccination status to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to keep everyone safe.

VHA has created a written statement to share our viewpoint on COVID-19 vaccination: 

VHA Home Healthcare (VHA) | Position Statement: COVID-19 Vaccination 
September 7, 2021

In accordance with the most recent recommendations from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Health Canada guidelines, VHA strongly encourages vaccination of all eligible staff/service providers, to maximize safety and reduce harm associated with COVID-19.

Mandatory Vaccination Reporting Policy: Effective September 7th, VHA is in compliance with Directive #6 and has implemented a mandatory vaccination reporting policy whereby all VHA staff, service providers, students and volunteers must provide proof of one of the following requirements:

  • full vaccination (2 doses) against COVID-19; or
  • a medical note with reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19; or
  • completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational program.

In addition, anyone who does not provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 is required to do regular antigen testing. 

In alignment with Home and Community Care Support Services, VHA will not adjust its scheduling and service delivery based on vaccination status.

Safety Measures: Regardless of vaccination status, all VHA staff/service providers will continue to complete daily COVID-19 self-assessment screening and follow required infection prevention and control protocols, including the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Clients and families are also asked to wear masks in care situations where social distancing (2 meters/6 feet) cannot be maintained.

Sharing Vaccination Status: COVID-19 vaccination status is private, personal health information.  While it is not mandatory to disclose vaccination status, VHA staff/service providers may voluntarily share their vaccination status at their discretion. To protect the privacy of individuals, we ask that VHA staff/service providers do not ask others about their vaccination status.

Moving to Mandatory Vaccination: On September 3, VHA announced the decision to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all our team members and will start to move towards this goal shortly.

Additional Information: Should you have questions or need more information about COVID-19 vaccination, please consult with your primary health care provider. Additional information is also available for staff/service providers on VHA’s intranet and for clients and families on VHA’s website (www.vha.ca).  

VHA will continue to follow public health guidance and legislation regarding COVID-19 vaccination and will amend this position statement as required.

Where to go for vaccination information: 

  • COVID-19 first and second dose vaccination is widely available for all adults in Ontario. Vaccine appointments can be booked by visiting https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ or by calling 1-888-999-6488 or by contacting your local Public Health Unit for further information for your region.
  • First and second dose COVID-19 vaccination is also now available for youth born in 2009 or earlier. Further information can be found here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-youth
  • Third dose COVID-19 vaccine shots are now available in Ontario for select vulnerable populations. Please click here for further information: https://news.ontario.ca/en/backgrounder/1000751/ontarios-updated-covid-19-vaccination-eligibility
  • The City of Toronto has announced the Vaccine Equity Transportation Plan, which will help ensure that vulnerable residents and seniors can access COVID-19 vaccinations by removing barriers to transportation and making it easier to travel to and from clinics in Toronto. For more information on this initiative, click 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 Home and Community Care Support Services Care Coordinator.
  • Vaccine appointments are also available at many pharmacies and through many family doctors. Please contact your local pharmacy or your family doctor for further information.
  • For region specific information, contact your local Public Health Unit for further information.

VHA HOME HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATION STATUS

Personal support worker wearing a mask and face shield

VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) remains open for business during COVID-19. 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.

KEEPING YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONE SAFE DURING COVID-19

We encourage all clients and family members to refer to the information below regarding proper infection prevention and control practices and information about COVID-19 to help keep everyone safe and protected.

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

Maria, PSW and her client, Rosalinda

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.

Please click here for information on how to wear a mask while care providers are in the home.

Symptoms of , which is the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe.

Click here to learn about some of the symptoms associated with the virus.

If you are caring for or living with someone who has the virus, you are considered a ‘close contact’. Your local public health unit will give you special instructions about how to monitor your own health, what to do if you start to feel sick and how to contact them. 

Click here for a guide on self-isolation.

Click here for a guide on how to care for someone in the home with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.

It is recommended that when coughing, someone should cough into a tissue or cough into their elbow, and then perform hand hygiene.

Please click here for proper hand hygiene procedures.

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.

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