The Participation House – COVID-19 Planning/Prevention Update April 16, 2020

Please be assured that during this time of unrest as it pertains to the worldwide pandemic COVID-19 The Participation House Project (Durham Region) is taking all necessary precautions to maintain a Healthy, Safe Workplace and Service environment.  

There is no doubt that we are in uncharted territory and unprecedented times. From the onset of this pandemic and in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus we have taken an approach that is proactive, responsible, responsive and incrementally increases in breadth and restrictions as more information becomes available and as our community realities change.

The measures that we are taking during this pandemic are always guided by the following priorities:

  • To maintain a healthy and safe work environment.
  • To empower employees through information and open dialogue.
  • To help staff maintain a work-life balance through understanding their routines and commitments and so to help reduce personal pressures.
  • To continuously collaborate and engage the workforce in developing the solutions and managing concerns and they evolve.
  • To find and purchase as much Personal Protective Equipment as possible.
  • To prioritize today’s work by trying to reduce prevalence and occurrences of COVID-19 three weeks out.
  • To be fluid in our approaches and adjust to change so to mitigate risk and manage staff anxieties and concerns
  • To incrementally increase interventions through creating more safety measures as risks grow
  • Manage, provide and implement PPE usage in a responsible manner to not exhaust our resources before they are needed and as directed by Public Health
  • To introduce tools and safety filters in a graduated manner that matches and helps manage staff angst.

This correspondence provides a summary of actions and activities related to the implementation of our Pandemic Plan:

Phase 1 – PREVENT – 4-part approach

KEY TRIGGER(s)- World Health Organization Proclaims COVID-19 to be a Pandemic and leading up to the March Break peak travel time

1. Inform and educate

2. Engage and collaborate with staff to be part of the solution

3. Increase communication

4. Develop 3 phases framework for responses. Prevent – Reduce – Contain

Some examples of Actions/Activities:

 “COVID 19” binders were created with information specific to the pandemic/ pandemic plan distributed to employees/ongoing daily communication with employees to provide information & updates/procurement of necessary PPE

Phase 2 – PREVENT – 5-part approach

KEY TRIGGER(s) – Ontario Government Declares a State of Emergency and introduces self-isolation, closures, social distancing etc.

1. Inform and Empower Staff to self-regulate and control the risk through their behaviours.

2. Limit risk to people in service through reducing exposures and staff movement within their homes and to the community as well as sterilizing their homes.

3. Adjust environment so to help staff manage work life balance that may have become more difficult due to Provincial declaration of a state of emergency.

4. Provide knowledge banks in house and through opportunities to ask questions and express concerns

5. Increase and establish community connections to help better prepare, inform and gather resources to keep our people safe.

Some examples of Actions/Activities:

Implementation of virtual meetings daily with staff, close all non-residential programs at PH, implemented screen practices and discontinued all non-essential visits and community-based activities, modified schedule and staffing assignment to restrict staff to a specific location to minimize movement within, implemented an enhanced cleaning schedule for high touch surfaces, introduced deep cleaning by an external restoration company, continued procurement of PPE

Phase 3 – REDUCE – 4-part approach

KEY TRIGGER(s)-Ontario Government Issues a state of emergency for the Developmental Sector

1. Collect information from staff to better track and understand risk based on their routines and care commitments outside of work

2. Increase mitigation strategies and impending risk through further reducing exposures brought into the workplace through staff and through further decreasing group interactions to 5 or less and movement within locations.

3. Update information and training based on increased knowledge and gained through community experiences and as directed by Public Health

4. Continue to grow reach, influence and be a voice within the community and province to ensure our people and the sector can be safe

Some examples of Actions/Activities:

Circulation and request for staff to complete Self Declaration Form regarding work outside of PH, creation of a training document to inform employees on Public Health Guidelines for Group Homes, create/implement a 12 schedule model through collaboration with employee reps, provision of emergency PPE kits on site for staff in the event of a presumed and/or confirmed case of Covid-19, continued procurement of PPE

Phase 4 – CONTAIN – 3-part approach We are currently in this Phase

KEY TRIGGER(s)-Outbreaks in Durham DS Agencies and surrounding community

1. Use information gained through staff declarations to inform decisions on how best to manage risk brought into the work environment through employees.

2. Begin to restrict staff behaviour and work commitment beyond PH while trying to find a balance that does not create hardship for them and their families.

3. With growing concern and outbreak in our community implement and Increase risk reduction for residents and between staff by introducing mask protocols.

Some examples of Actions/Activities:

Mandatory mask usage and protocols implemented, limit staff ability to work at alternate service locations outside of PH, assess ability to limit part-time staff and their continuity of working at alternate locations, continue to adjust staff schedule based on implementation of work restrictions, continue procurement of PPE

Phase 5 – RESPOND – 5-part approach We transitioning our preparedness for this next phase

KEY TRIGGER(s)- Presumptive and/or Confirmed COVID-19 Case at PH

1. Educate staff and prepare them on how to identify and respond to presumed COVID-19

2. Increase restrictions and staff movement within the work environment and/or entrance to service locations based on activities outside of PH and through employer/public health directives for self-isolation.

3. Implement Self-Isolation for all residents within the home and stop all group activities

4. Keep people out of hospital and in their homes as long as possible and to manage their vulnerabilities given restrictions to support them once they are at the hospital.

5. Track staff movements within our schedule so to quickly engage containment upon positive assessment of a COVID-19 case in our workplace.

6. Adjust environments, interactions and plans as informed and directed by Public Health Officials.

7. Full PPE for all confirmed COVID-19 cases

Some examples of Actions/Activities:

Circulation of 3-Phases of Interaction shared as per flow-chart decision making matrix, practice mock scenarios on how to respond to symptoms and concerns of infection/illness observed, continue to monitor and develop responses as informed by Public Health, government and in response to the changes within our community and environment, ongoing procurement of PPE

Continuity and quality of our services would not be possible without the ongoing dedication and commitment of our front-line Direct Support Professionals.  Words cannot express our thankfulness for their dedication to the people they support and the agency as a whole.

As always Stay Safe and Stay Healthy.

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