2021 News

Staying Connected: Volunteer coaches help clients access Virtual Care

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By VHA
Zeynep Onel, VHA Volunteer

Zeynep Onel, VHA Volunteer Virtual Care Coach

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as everyone has been encouraged to stay home as much as possible and to maintain physical distancing, VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) quickly developed the means and protocols to safely and effectively deliver many of our services virtually.

Since the launch of VHA Virtual Care in spring 2020, over 35,000 virtual visits have been completed, helping clients continue to reach their goals and receive essential care at home.

For many clients, the technology needed to support virtual care was a challenge and VHA recognized that support was needed to make this option more accessible.

Zeynep Onel is one of the volunteers who has stepped in to help clients access virtual care as a volunteer Virtual Care Coach at VHA. Through the program, she provides guidance to lessen the barrier of technology and ensures clients feel comfortable before their first virtual visit.

“I’ve worked with clients who have never used a device,” said Zeynep. “So there is a sense of accomplishment after every session as I help clients learn how to connect with their service providers digitally.”

A natural communicator and educator, outside of her volunteer coaching role, Zeynep acts as an English-Turkish translator. When she was offered the chance to be a volunteer Virtual Care Coach, she jumped at the opportunity to use her skills to make an impact during the pandemic and beyond.

Zeynep is one of 12 volunteer coaches who together can offer their service in a total of nine languages to both VHA clients and staff.

“We wanted to help drive virtual care access and accessibility for clients and support our own staff and service providers in the adoption of virtual care,” said Dawn Ashford, VHA Volunteer Services Supervisor, who helped launch the program by engaging volunteers and designing the service early on in the pandemic.

 In fact, virtual care coaching has seen impressive success rates since its launch. The program has an 89 per cent acceptance rate, and 96 per cent of coaching participants are ready to engage in virtual care after their first session. 

Since the program’s launch, volunteer coaches have helped nearly 100 people get connected and meet their goals through various VHA Virtual Care services  including nursing, hoarding support, and speech, occupational and physical therapy.

Virtual Care Shifts into High Gear in Response to COVID-19
A VHA Nurse provides virtual care to a client.

“It’s amazing to be involved in this program. In such an isolating and challenging time for so many, I couldn’t imagine not being able to reach my health care provider or family because I wasn’t comfortable using a computer or cellphone,” said Zeynep.

“Volunteering brings meaning and purpose to my life.”

Virtual care coaching is available to all VHA clients and service providers. To learn more about virtual care at VHA, visit vha.ca/virtual-care/.