We are very pleased to share that our front-line, direct service staff were recently selected as recipients of the annual Community Recognition Awards held by Yvan Baker, MP, on Sunday, January 17, 2021. These staff members play a crucial role for the vulnerable members and caregivers of our Etobicoke community. ESS CEO, Alison Coke, accepted the award on our behalf. ESS staff and Board Members also joined to celebrate our direct service staff for this well-earned award.
The impact of our direct service staff team is far-reaching, from providing in-home and overnight care, transportation to medical appointments and access to groceries to delivering wellness and social recreation activities, support for caregivers and individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
When the pandemic hit, as an agency, ESS had to quickly pivot the way it delivered many of its programs and services. For the health and safety of its clients, staff and volunteers, it was necessary to temporarily close all in-person programs. It was of utmost importance to ESS that it find a way to safely provide a continuum of care.
With the creativity, solution and client-focused mindset of its staff teams, ESS was able to successfully tackle the challenge of delivering its programs and services in a new way to continue meeting the needs of its clients and caregivers at such a critical time.
Adult Day Programs
Many caregivers relied on ESS’ Day Program to provide them with a needed break and to receive some respite during the day to rest, recharge and complete everyday tasks. ESS’ Program Coordinators were swift in keeping a close connection to these caregivers and working with Client Service teams to establish a virtual program format to provide them support and help in coping with caring for their family member at home full-time. Having regular contact and a touch point with people caregivers and clients are familiar with provides a type of stability and emotional support during this challenging and uncertain time. Keeping a routine is important for people living with a dementia. Recognizing this, the Program Coordinators meet virtually with these clients in small groups 12 times a week and one-on-one to connect and engage in sensory activities to stimulate the mind and body. The Coordinators have also developed a weekly system where they share activities and tips with caregivers to help them engage their loved ones at home.
Assisted Living, Overnight and In-Home Respite Care Services
ESS Personal Support Workers (PSWs) continue to provide one-on-one, client-centered personal care and assistance to seniors during the course of the pandemic to help them remain independent and safe at home. They provide comfort, a familiar and friendly face, while remaining a constant source of support and companionship to vulnerable seniors living on their own and for caregivers looking for extended respite from their caregiving role.
Health and Wellness and Seniors Lunch Programs
The pandemic left hundreds of clients in these programs without their usual in-person programs where they would reconnect on a weekly basis with friends, socialize, enjoy recreational and therapeutic activities and take part in exercise classes. These social supports and regular physical activity are so important for mental, physical and emotional wellness and in helping seniors remain independent in their own homes. In response, ESS moved all of these programs to a virtual and group telephone format where its Program Coordinators and Fitness Instructors plan and lead 18 weekly programs where they can continue to meet, chat, enjoy activities with one another and take part in physical activity. In addition, the Coordinators make regular wellness calls with individual clients to “check-in”, offer additional supports, provide a listening ear and talk about how they are feeling and managing during the pandemic.
With the closure of in-person community programs and medical offices, our Transportation Team quickly shifted its focus to address food access; a growing community concern and need especially amongst our most vulnerable populations. ESS developed its own weekly grocery delivery service in partnership with Emiliano and Ana’s No Frills, where ESS Drivers and PSWs pick-up and drop-off groceries right to the seniors’ front door. ESS also works closely with other community partners such as Toronto Community Housing Corporation, Rexdale, Stonegate and LAMP Community Health Centres to have its Drivers deliver thousands of meals and food boxes to their individual tenants and community members, many of which, are unable to leave their homes or are at more risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus. Drivers continue to safely take seniors one-on-one to important medical appointments and offer a friendly voice during a stressful time.
Congratulatory words from colleagues and community members:
“Congratulations on winning an Award, both as a client and volunteer I appreciate all the hard work you have done to adapt and provide services to seniors in Etobicoke during these trying times.” – Cathie
“Our ESS community is a better place because of our ESS Workers who have continued to demonstrate strength, determination and dedication to our clients, caregivers, and fellow colleagues. Congratulations for this recognition.” – Diane, ESS Client Services Manager
“Congratulations! This is a very well-deserved recognition. Thank you all for your hard work, commitment, and passion!” – Mariam, ESS Senior Manager
“Congratulations – very well deserved and I appreciate everything they do and their hard work and dedication to our clients and ESS.” – Lindsay, ESS Senior Manager
“I am so proud of everyone’s tireless work over the past year! Great job team!” – Anna, ESS Client Services Manager