|Dear CLBC Service Providers:
Thank you for your ongoing dedication to people with developmental disabilities and their families. We would like to provide further information to help you keep people safe and supported.
Community Inclusion Support:
It is important to recognize that while this is a difficult time for everyone, it is more challenging for some individuals with developmental disabilities to understand and comply with general health guidelines. Also, some individuals you support have other health conditions which make them more vulnerable should they contract the virus. This requires all providers to take additional steps to reduce the risk of the transmission of COVID-19. This is why we are requiring providers to implement timely changes that go beyond some of the measures that would be expected of the general population. This is being done at the explicit direction of the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.
For the vast majority of supported individuals the safest place for them right now is at home. That is why if you haven’t already done so we are requiring you to work with families, home share providers, and other support agencies to quickly transition supports to be provided from or in the individual’s home.
We have already heard that many families and home share providers have agreed to support the individual from home until the crisis has passed. This is greatly appreciated and helps agencies direct support to others in need. We have also heard of agencies working closely to transfer staff that typically work in a day program to the home of the individual. This week the CEO Network and CLBC will host a conference call for providers that are struggling to implement changes. Providers that have successfully adapted their services will share examples of what they have done to transition to home-based support. Details about this call will be provided soon.
Congregation of individuals puts them at increased risk of contracting or spreading the virus. The direction of the Public Health Officer is to not congregate in large groups. Given the additional risks associated with supporting individuals with developmental disabilities CLBC directs organizations to not support in groups of more than five individuals. Remember that smaller is better especially for individuals that can’t manage social distancing or the other personal hygiene directions and/or have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk should they contract the virus.
As we have indicated in previous communication, CLBC understands and supports agency decisions to flexibly redeploy your staff. If you have any questions we encourage you to contact your CLBC liaison Analyst. We need to work together.
Group Home Support:
We know that families are worried about their family member living in a group home and want to know what is being done to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. We ask that you communicate to families immediately that if they are willing and able to support their family member in their own home, now is the time to take them home. Where possible we ask that you redeploy some staff to support that individual in their family’s home. We are actively looking at how we can offer support to those families that have or will take on additional support responsibility.
Like in long-term cares settings, if an individual in one of the group homes comes down with symptoms of COVID-19 the other individuals will need to be quarantined together for a period of time to reduce the risk of the virus spreading further. At that point a family member will not be able to remove their family member as the individual likely will have been exposed to the virus and the focus will be on containment.
If you haven’t already done so we ask that you also communicate to families that the homes are not open to non-essential visitors at this time. Phone or video calls are an excellent way to keep open the communication during this challenging time.
Support in home sharing:
We are also grateful to the many home sharing providers that have responded by keeping the individual home and providing additional support. We encourage this wherever possible because, as indicated above, many individuals have difficulty understanding what is going on and adapting the way they interact with others. We understand how taxing that can be for some home sharing providers that have relied on the individual receiving support during the day. Where possible and required we ask that you redeploy supports to the individual’s home. We are actively considering how we can provide additional support to those home sharing providers that have taken on additional responsibility. We will have more communications for home sharing providers in the very near future.
CEO, Community Living BC
Dr. Danièle Behn Smith
Deputy Provincial Health Officer – Indigenous Health
Office of the Provincial Health Officer