At Integracare, we’re dedicated to the health and safety of our entire professional family. That includes our staff, Caregivers, and, most importantly, our Clients and their loved ones. We’re vigilantly monitoring COVID-19 developments, and we’re following the recommendations from health officials on local, federal, and international levels.
For decades, Integracare has shown enduring support for our Clients in past emergencies, and we’ll continue to do everything in our power to deliver seamless essential services to all of our Clients during the present COVID-19 complications.
As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the world, we’re doing everything we can to uphold the highest standards of healthcare and making every effort to flatten the curve of the virus. Our primary concern continues to be the wellbeing of our Clients and Caregivers. There are updates every day now (and sometimes, every hour), and we’re taking all of them extremely seriously.
Here are the steps that we’re taking to help limit the spread of the virus.
What We’re Doing
We’re adding precautionary measures to our services to protect everyone in the Integracare family. Most importantly, please know that our Caregivers are still providing essential care and support to our Clients. We have issued mandatory COVID-19 screening forms that all Caregivers must complete via a program in our company software system.
We continue to apply a strict 14-day quarantine for any staff member who has been outside of the country or exhibited any minor flu symptoms.
To protect our Clients, we’ve asked anyone on staff returning from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days — and they will not be providing care for any Client under any circumstances for at least 14 days upon returning to Canada. Our Manager of HR has given orders to Caregivers to let her know of any recent international travel or if anyone has experienced flu-like symptoms within the past few weeks.
On March 19, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that:
- Health Care Workers working in long-term care or home care settings caring for or visiting Clients/ Patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 need to take the following droplet and contact precautions:
- Surgical Masks — N95 Masks are recommended if a healthcare professional is performing “Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures” — including but not limited to bronchoscopy, intubations, surgery, and autopsies. N95 Masks are distributed as required at this point.
- Integracare has a supply of Surgical Masks available to Clients as needed.
- Isolation Gowns — Integracare has an amount of Isolation Gowns available to our Caregivers and we continue to order more.
- Integracare has a significant supply of Gloves available to Caregivers as required
- We also have a substantial quantity of Eye Protection Goggles available to Caregivers. We are ordering more on Monday, March 23.
Other preventative measures that we continue to take:
- Delivering free hand sanitizer to all residences of our Clients.
- We are distributing complimentary sanitizer to all Caregivers.
- We are educating Caregivers on proper hand hygiene and hand washing techniques.
- All teams have been advised not to touch their faces.
- We’ve provided our Caregivers with free online education modules regarding COVID-19, and we’re able to track those who have registered and completed the online education modules. Part of the process is to send reminders to those who haven’t finished them yet, so we can be confident that all staff has completed the course.
- We’re being extra careful and taking severe measures to clean and disinfect. We’re disinfecting all light switches, doorknobs, hand railings, and office spaces at both our offices and at the residences of our Clients.
- Lastly, we continue to demand anyone who shows signs of illness to remain home and allow Integracare to find temporary replacement Caregivers.
It’s also our promise to send regular updates about the virus to the entire Integracare family.
The Precautionary Measures of Caregivers
The driving force behind Integracare is the talent of our compassionate Caregivers. They play a critical role in keeping Clients healthy, as well as each other, and containing the virus overall.
In addition to staying home and self-isolating when required, other precautionary measures that they reinforce include:
- Above all else, thorough and frequent hand washing
- Not touching the face of themselves or others
- Carrying and using hand sanitizer wherever they go
- Wearing a face mask when required (Integracare is supplying custom-fitted masks to staff)
- The use of medical gloves
- Caregivers must wear a clean Integracare Uniform with all Clients. Caregivers must change into the clean uniform at the beginning of each shift for the health and safety of everyone. Caregivers are not to wear their uniform outside of the Client’s home, including public transit or a rideshare as this would defeat the entire purpose of keeping the uniform clean. Last week, we offered all Caregivers free uniforms to pick up at our office.
Clients in Long-Term Care Facilities, Retirement Homes, Nursing Homes, and Dementia Care Facilities
Long-Term Facilities: We spoke with the Ministry of Long-Term Care on Friday, because we wanted clarification on new policies going forward that grant access for “outside” Caregivers (Registered Practical Nurses and Personal Support Workers). The Ministry seemed inclined to issue an updated directive giving access to private Caregivers without qualification for Client or Residence’s care requirements. We hope to have access as soon as possible.
In terms of Retirement Homes, we currently have access to all but one Retirement Home to support our Clients. We have sent an email to the CEO of that company, but we still don’t have an answer. As soon as we do, we will update our Clients and families.
Care Coordination and Operations
Last week we had our first Remote Coordination, and it went incredibly successful, and to say we appreciate your patience would be an understatement. We trust that you haven’t noticed any significant interruption in service or support from our team at head office. We’re here for you and are working around the clock to support in every way possible.
Remember: there will be no interruption to our 24/7 On-Call Support.
We’ve ordered more supplies and have already received additional Gloves. We’re expecting Hand Sanitizer, Gowns, Surgical Masks, and Eye Protection but can’t guarantee a delivery date just yet.
We continue to educate and remind Caregivers to wash their hands several times throughout the day and have passed along this link: https://ipac-canada.org/hand-hygiene.php. We encourage our Clients and their families to keep any empty bottles of hand sanitizer (either Purell or Integracare bottles) and bring them into our office later this week or next so we can refill them for you. Please let us know ahead of time if you plan to come in, as we are expected to receive 5 gallons Hand Sanitizer but are still waiting upon confirmation.
What Can You Do?
Right now, health and government officials are pleading with the world to stay at home and to self-isolate. If you have recently returned from a vacation, you must quarantine for 14-days and monitor any symptoms very carefully. The COVID-19 symptoms are rapidly becoming more available. Check out this to get a better understanding of what the symptoms are. If you develop a fever or a harsh, dry cough, consult your doctor immediately.
Please remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation.
However, it’s crucial to stay away from your loved one at this time. Although the virus affects individuals of all ages, Seniors are far more vulnerable and can get very sick, and worse. Call them as much as you can and make sure they have groceries and medication. You can always take a careful trip to the grocery store or pharmacy (wear a mask, stay at least 6-feet away from others) and drop them off at their door. Try to get your loved one online so you can Face time them and stay connected. No one is sure how long this is going to last, so reach out as much as you can because it’s going to be a lonely time for all of us.
Make sure there are at least 30-days worth of prescription medication in their house, and it’s also a good idea to keep an emergency kit on-hand. The American Red Cross recommends a first-aid kit be held in the home at all times, complete with items to treat injuries such as Band-Aids, rubbing alcohol, and Tylenol. If your loved one doesn’t have such a kit, consider purchasing items that are needed in times of emergency or crisis.
Always remember that Integracare is with you and your family every step of the way during this stressful time. Our COVID testing services will continue and we remain committed to our promise to keep your loved one safe and healthy.
Caring for Seniors
Washing hands and using hand sanitizer is not just encouraged to Caregivers, but to anyone who engages with Clients, including you and your family. The goal right now is to flatten the curve so we can all (and we mean the entire world) can tackle this virus together and go back to living our regular lives.
Talk to your loved one and listen to what their concerns are. To avoid panic or anxiety, communicate a plan amongst family members to set up phone calls with them as well as their Caregiver. Encourage your family member to engage in light exercise around the house and to stay active.
Call them on the phone and check in on them regularly. Send a movie or book suggestion. If you’re concerned about your family member, remember that they’re not alone. Integracare is here to help all Clients feel healthy, comfortable, and secure.
We’re all in this together during this surreal and challenging time in history. Do your part: stay inside as much as you can but continue to check on your loved one via phone and other technological modes of communication. Our Caregivers are doing their best to stay healthy so they can keep your family members healthy, too.
For additional resources, please contact the following:
- Telehealth Ontario: For medical advice, contact Telehealth Ontario, a free, confidential service at 1-866-797-0000
- Toronto Public Health: For information or resources about COVID-19, consult Public Health Toronto
- Public Health Ontario: Find provincial resources about COVID-19
- Public Health Agency of Canada: Learn more about federal guidance and responses to COVID-19
If you have any further questions or concerns for us, please contact Lisa Sundarsingh, VP Care of Operations or Lee Grunberg, President & CEO. We’re always here to help.