March 09, 2022
Pandemic Readiness, Response and Resilience Two Years Later

LOFT’s Chelsea Grossman and her team were ready to support clients through the challenges of the Omicron wave

Thriving In Spite of the Omicron Wave

The end of 2021 saw a new surge in COVID-19 cases. As such, we reintroduced strict safety protocols to ensure our clients’ well-being as we prepared to face the Omicron variant.

After two years of managing variants, having conversations with clients, and embracing safety protocols, our team was both mentally and physically prepared. Thanks to their teamwork, dedication and preparedness, one client at our Wilkinson Housing and Supportive Services program did show symptoms, they knew exactly what to do.

Early in 2022, we were able to test everyone at that location within 5 hours. All clients and staff were tested using the Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 testing machine, which uses AI technology to reduce the wait for results and allows healthcare providers to make care decisions quickly.

“The early days of the pandemic were confusing for everyone, but our team has worked hard for the last two years.” Chelsea says. “We have access to a steady supply of PPE, we have testing on-site, and clear procedures on how to deal with a positive case.”

Supplies and procedures alone are not enough. Chelsea is grateful to her team and other LOFT staff members for stepping up to support clients at such a difficult time. “Our response to this new surge was a true example of teamwork,” she explains. “The bravery from our staff was absolutely amazing. They’ve been showing up every day throughout all of this uncertainty, and we wouldn’t be able to function without them. I’m so proud to be a part of this team.”

Supporting Clients with Mental Health and Addiction Challenges

As stressful as encountering a positive case can be, all clients at Wilkinson were quickly onboard with the program’s safety protocols. Thanks to their strong relationships with staff, our clients knew that the measures being enforced were necessary for their safety.

Chelsea and her team worked closely with each client to ensure they had the individual support they needed to navigate the situation. “After testing everyone, we talked to them about what was happening and helped them process their emotions,” Chelsea says.

One of these clients is Colin. You may recall us sharing his story back in April 2020.  He has no short-term memory and can never go out without a LOFT staff member. When he tested positive for COVID, testing locations were limited and it was challenging to get vulnerable folks like Colin safely tested. Everyone needed a lot of patience to navigate the challenging situation.

Two years later when Colin tested positive for Omicron, our team was ready. On-site testing meant clients, many with mobility issues like Colin, could be tested easily right at our program location. The sense of order helped Colin remain in good spirits. In comparison to March 2020, he was much more independent because after two years of having conversations, he was able to build on his understanding of what was happening. Our team put everything they learned over the past two years into practice and knew what specific support he needed. We are happy to report he has fully recovered!

Being Ready for Whatever Comes Our Way

The pandemic has changed how we serve our clients. That ability to embrace change is what helped keep the “tsunami” of Omicron at bay. Our staff continues to go above and beyond to support our clients and keep them safe — from setting up virtual support groups to organizing vaccine clinics. They do it because they know they are critical in our clients’ lives.

As we start to see pandemic restrictions lifting, safety protocols at LOFT have not changed. We are a healthcare agency with vulnerable clients who live in congregate settings. As such, to keep our staff and clients safe, regardless of what the pandemic brings, LOFT invested in a good supply of:

  • N95 masks for our frontline staff
  • Medical masks
  • PPE supplies such as gloves and eye protection
  • Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes
  • Rapid tests for staff testing and for client testing at high support sites

If you’d like to show your support for our amazing frontline staff, make a gift in their honour.

Your gift will help LOFT provide basic needs, like food, to our clients.  With costs continuing to rise, we anticipate needing more than $1 million to provide food to our clients in 2022, making your support more important than ever.