Dear CLBC eligible individuals and families –

I am writing you today about the outbreak of the virus called COVID-19. Our world has changed in the last few weeks. Health experts are giving us daily updates and asking everyone to take steps to help prevent the spread of the disease. CLBC has created a web page here for individuals and families.

First, I want to recognize this is not an easy time. I talk to self advocates each day. They tell me they are confused and scared. They are unsure how to be safe when they go out into their community, and many of the community resources they rely on are closed. They do not want to lose their connections to those they love. We all need to take a bit of time each day to talk to the self advocates we know and ask them how they are doing.

Families are anxious too. I know there is a burden of stress that comes with being a parent of someone who may be vulnerable. I also know that the COVID-19 outbreak poses great complexities for families. I’m sure you have many questions.

I must be honest. While we can answer some questions, we don’t have answers yet to all of them. This is a situation that this generation has not faced before. However, I am very hopeful. CLBC is working with the government and service providers to understand and respond to the challenges. I believe that we can meet them.

Here’s what we are doing:

Our first priority has been to help spread the word about COVID-19, and what people can do to protect themselves. This information is on our web page. If you are sick, call 811 and stay home. Wash your hands often. Avoid touching your face and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing. Practice social distancing.

We are also working with our service providers. I understand you may be hearing different things about whether some programs will continue or not. I know our service providers and their staff are working hard and making good decisions to protect individuals, families and staff while continuing to provide essential support.

CLBC has provided guidance we hope will help them think about how to adjust services like day programs to protect individuals with chronic health conditions and prevent the spread of illness. If a program has to change or close, we are asking providers to assess the impact on the individuals and caregivers, and where possible to adjust staffing to assist caregivers by serving individuals in or out of their homes. Providers are really stepping up to this challenge.

What should you do if you or your family member becomes ill? This is a key worry for all of us. If a person has flu like symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing, call 811 to talk to a nurse. You can call 711 if you are deaf and hearing impaired.

I have been talking with the Ministry of Health and Provincial Health Officer in the last few days to ask them to ensure we have access to the care we need in our communities should one of our loved ones become sick.

If you have questions, here are some helpful contacts:

CLBC continues to be open at this time. Our staff will respond to your calls as quickly as they can. You can also send your questions to CLBCInfo@gov.bc.ca at any time.

Thank you for all you are doing to help your family and others during this time. Please continue to let your service providers and CLBC know how we can be helping during these uncertain times. And stay tuned for more updates. Be assured that self advocates, families and support workers are our top priority.

Sincerely,

Ross Chilton
CEO, Community Living BC

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