Dear Circle of Care Clients, Caregivers, and Families,
For Circle of Care, 2021 has been a year of collaboration, dedication, commitment, and perseverance. Our teams have worked both tirelessly and diligently with our partners, our community, and each other to provide care and support to you: our clients, caregivers, and families. We have stayed strong, despite unprecedented fear and uncertainty, and by working together, we have been able to do some incredible things this year.
I would like to share some stories showcasing ways in which we have improved the lives of our clients and caregivers this year. As this pandemic continues to heighten the social isolation felt by many older adults, Circle of Care’s programs and services are more vital than ever before. Our employees, students, and volunteers have gone above and beyond to lift spirits, provide community connections, and ensure our clients can continue to live happy and healthy lives at home.
Protecting workers, clients, and our community
In the early part of 2021, we began celebrating the announcement of vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers in our province, which was followed by a vaccination rollout for older adults, and then the general public.
One of our PSWs, Kathleen, was the first Circle of Care employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. “I am the luckiest woman in the city,” said Kathleen. “I love the people I care for, and by protecting myself I am protecting them.”
Circle of Care employees and volunteers were not only on the receiving end of vaccinations, but also contributed to provincial vaccination rollout efforts, including staffing mass vaccination clinics in northern Toronto. We helped to implement in-home resident vaccination pilot projects with Toronto Public Health and provided transportation services to allow for mobile testing and vaccinations.
“The home-bound residents we vaccinated were so grateful,” says Reeshma Harripersad, RPN, and Professional Practice Lead with Circle of Care. “I felt very purposeful and proud to be part of this project. I know, ultimately, it will save lives.”
Providing life-sustaining meals to our clients
Back in the Spring, we faced a third provincial lockdown as COVID cases rose dramatically with the spread of the Delta variant. With food costs increasing due to inflation, and many older adults still fearful of leaving their homes, many of our clients and their families were concerned about adequate nutrition.
Our teams sprang into action yet again. Our Meals on Wheels program continued to deliver meals to our clients, and also organized special deliveries of grocery and fresh produce boxes that supported our clients through this difficult time.
“The packages were very well received,” said Rachel, one of the volunteers who assisted with the delivery. “My daughter and I really saw how much these special deliveries were needed.”
Connecting clients through digital tablets
As the pandemic wore on, the consequences of social isolation for many of our clients became more apparent. Face-to-face visits, even with relatives, posed serious consequences as determined by Public Health. Connecting with loved ones was critical and Circle of Care wanted to support this.
To address this, we leveraged a digital tablet program, in partnership with an organization called Breezie, which began back in 2020. This allowed us to continue to onboard more of our clients to this exciting program, which included providing them with a digital tablet and internet connection, and teaching them to use ZOOM for speaking with family and friends, and for participating in Circle of Care programs and activities.
“If you don’t have any experience with a computer at all, this tablet is the way to do it,” says Lou, who received a tablet through Circle of Care. “I love my tablet because it has a lot of software in it, and it has lots of apps that I can play with. I use it to connect with my family through video chat, and to learn something new every day.”
Virtual technology has increased since this pandemic started. As a result, we have continued to offer ZOOM programming across many of our services, including virtual support groups and webinars, virtual exercise classes, and virtual Adult Day Program activities. We have been excited to see the growth of these programs and have been encouraged by the way that our clients from many geographies have been able to connect with each other.
Looking forward to the future
These stories are only a few examples of the ways in which we have made a difference in the lives of our clients this year. As we close in another year and prepare for 2022, I am incredibly proud of all the wonderful work that we have accomplished as an organization over the past year. Our teams have been agile, responsive, innovative, and incredibly dedicated. Their passion does not go unnoticed each and every day and I look forward to sharing more success stories with all of you as we enter 2022.
On behalf of the Board of Directors at Circle of Care, we want to wish all of you, your families, and your loved ones a happy holiday season and all the very best for a wonderful New Year.
Chief Executive Officer, Circle of Care and Vice President, Sinai Health