Protecting the Health, Safety and Well-Being of Disability Support Program Participants During Pandemic



Protecting the Health, Safety and Well-Being of Disability Support Program Participants During Pandemic

Protecting the Health, Safety and Well-Being of Disability Support Program Participants During Pandemic
Bridgetown, April 1 – 2020 – Diverse Ability organizations from across the province are working hard to keep their residents safe during the
COVID-19 pandemic and to adjust to the restrictions imposed under the Public Health Act. Through implementing best practice infection control
procedures and other prevention measures, to increasing leisure and recreation programs and using technology to maintain important family
connections, they are doing everything possible to keep their residents healthy and safe and to make life as normal as possible.

“We are doing so many innovative things to keep our vulnerable residents safe during these diffi cult times,” says Joyce d’Entremont, CEO
of the Meadows Community in Bridgetown and Chair of Diverse Abilities NS. “We have implemented pandemic planning activities across
our organizations, increased screening of staff and resident symptoms, increased staffi ng to provide extraordinary cleaning and sanitation
measures, are educating our residents on proper hand hygiene, social distancing, and cough/sneeze etiquette, and we are complying with
mandatory visitor closures. Additionally, regular staff education is an important part of our prevention measures.”

Julie Hoeg, CEO of the Sunset Community in Pugwash and Vice-Chair of Diverse Abilities NS, adds the second priority focus has been reimagining
social and recreational programming and helping residents to understand why preferred activities, such as community outings and
visits, are not possible at this time.

“Social inclusion and participation in local community are fundamental tenets of everything we do in our sector, so we are being very creative
in supporting our residents adjust to the changes arising from the pandemic situation and make life as normal as possible,” says Hoeg.

Examples of these creative measures include:

• Employment/day programs being offered to small groups (under 5 people).
• In-house canteens/mini convenience stores to replicate shopping options.
• Walking programs and fun activities, like treasure hunts, on facility properties.
• Scenic drives for residents wanting to go on an “outing.”
• Indoor exercise programs (such as incumbent bikes, indoor gym equipment) to help reduce stress and anxiety.
• Small group activities, such as trivia, karaoke, crafts and hymn sings.

Additional efforts have also been undertaken to keep families and friends in touch with their loved ones through the use of technology, such as
Facetime and Skype, as well a regular phone calls.

The organizations have also taken steps to ensure they are continuing to meet the needs of participants receiving services in community
programs and that they are being supported with coping with the required isolation that all Nova Scotians are currently experiencing. Staff
from regular day programs and social enterprises have been redeployed to provide extra assistance and ensure adequate staffi ng is in place.

“Recognizing and supporting our staff is also critically important during the pandemic,” says d’Entremont. “They are the unsung heroes whose
commitment to provide high quality care and support to some of Nova Scotia’s most vulnerable citizens is unwavering.”

Diverse Abilities NS is a membership-based association comprised of organizations who provide a continuum of progressive services and
supports that are designed to empower people with diverse abilities to make their own choices, participate in decision-making, and to be
contributors to and participate in their local community. Collectively, the members of Diverse Abilities NS serve more than 600 individuals with
moderate to severe intellectual and physical disabilities, chronic mental illness, addictions and acquired brain injuries.


140 Sunset Lane,
Pugwash, Nova Scotia,
B0K 1L0


E-mail: General inquires
Phone: 902.243.2571
Fax: 902.243.3222

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