Residential Site Stories Part III

Cota’s Collegeview Residential site is a supportive housing program for 20 individuals living with an acquired brain injury. The program provides rent-geared-to-income accommodation in a TCHC building downtown Toronto with 24/7 on-site support from Cota staff.

Residential Site Stories III: ABI Collegeview Supportive Housing Program

Implementing a Pandemic Response

Heather (Manager, Community Health Services) remembers the last in-person meeting she had with the leadership team at head office.

Collegeview Staff in the resident kitchen keeping six feet apart

We all realized this is really happening and knew we had to shift gears. I knew from the start what was and what wasn’t an appropriate response to the pandemic.

Heather (Manager, Community Health Services)

Heather’s former training as a nurse has greatly impacted her team. Pauline (Supportive Housing Worker) notes some of the strategies in place, “high touch surfaces are cleaned regularly, staff work six feet apart, and follow Cota’s PPE Strategy at all times.

I remember one of the first things Cota did was make sure we had cleaning services here 7-days a week. This took pressure off staff who already had a growing list of additional responsibilities.

Rosemary (Residential ADL Assistant)
Collegeview Staff in the resident kitchen keeping six feet apart

As service delivery changed and restrictions were put in place to protect staff and the residents, the overall experience was intense for the first few weeks. “Individuals in our care were initially frustrated with the stay-home isolation protocols,” reports Christiana (SHW). “And there was a lot of fear and uncertainty from our clients,” said Jon (SHW).

Yet, the Collegeview team persevered each week by: (1) executing organizational safety protocols while delivering the same standard of care; (2) providing education sessions about the importance of hand hygiene; and (3) listening compassionately to residents as they expressed their concerns.

And there have yet to be any positive cases to date, which has boosted team morale a lot!

The Positive Effects

Many residents wear a mask now and practice proper hand hygiene because they understand that the pandemic is real. They listen to staff and recognize that what Cota has been doing at Collegeview has kept them safe. And many residents have voiced their appreciation to the team:

Thank you for helping us and for being here all the time. Thank you for the food and delicious meals.

Resident (Collegeview)

You make us feel welcome and happy, given what is going on outside.

Resident (Collegeview)

We are visitors in their home,” says Rosemary, “and it’s our job to be consistent and conduct ourselves with compassion and sensitivity so that the client feels respected and maintain their dignity.”

Improving Quality of Life

Another change to service delivery involves one resident in particular, who is non-verbal, immunocompromised and requires 24/7 care. Collegeview staff that normally work with this individual adopted new safety practices immediately in order to minimize exposure and risk of transmission. This resident is prone to daily seizures and had two critical emergency visits to the ER the previous year. So, staff are on high alert.

I play music and he just becomes animated. The more you show him compassion and respect, the more he trusts you,” says Rosemary.

Since the new safety measures have been implemented, the quality of life for this individual has gone up. Pauline notes that the client went from 2-3 seizures a day to having one or two isolated incidents since January.

Collegeview Staff in the resident kitchen stepping up to help out

I’m inspired by what the team is doing by stepping up and doubling our efforts to work together. I never doubted that we weren’t going to get through this.

Jon (Supportive Housing Worker)

Heather says she is grateful for “Robert (Director, Community Health Services and Cota’s Housing Lead), who has done an amazing job overseeing all the residential sites.” She also appreciates other leadership members, Venky, Sylvia, and Paul, who provide both work week and over the weekend support. The team agrees that Heather has done a tremendous job in prioritizing the safety of everyone onsite.

We have peace of mind coming to work knowing that the individuals in our care continue to be symptom free. This is a good feeling.

Christiana (Supportive Housing Worker)
Collegeview Staff in the resident kitchen keeping six feet apart
Graphic depiction of the Collegeview apartment building

Working with a team who is excited to be here has been really helpful for my own mental health.

Heather (Manager, Community Health Services)
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