From Janet Butler, CEO/President
Today brings more information, changes, and challenges. Here at CSI, the positive energy is bringing together strong teams to focus on helping everyone to be healthy of mind and body, engaged, and secure in a time of uncertainty. There are many, many superstars in our CSI Family, my deep gratitude to all of you!
A number of years ago, Carol Whitcomb, the founder of CSI guided our organization to develop our continuity of operations plan (COOP) in a time when a pandemic was predicated. The thoughtfulness of the planning was dedicated to ensuring all of our CSI Family would be safe. The pandemic did not arrive, but the plan lived on. That thoughtful planning, years before this crisis arrived, has helped to guide CSI’s decisions in a thoughtful prepared manner. Ms. Whitcomb’s leadership for more than 30 years created the exceptional organization CSI is today.
In the development of our plan and as we have faced the COVID-19 crisis, many decisions have been made with a thoughtful analysis of the risk for potential exposure. In each situation we evaluate what is the potential for exposure, what level of occurrence, and what is the overall risk. Thoughtfully considering potential risks has led CSI to alter how we staff our supports.
I am sharing the thought process to help all to develop a better understanding of how to contain some of the risk of contracting COVID-19 virus.
All of the guidance from the experts states that social distancing is a way to decrease your exposure to the virus. If you don’t come in close proximity to people, there is a reduced risk of you picking up the virus that they may cough or sneeze. The second important factor in social distancing is limiting the actual number of people with whom you come in contact. If through self-quarantine, the only people you come in contact with is your close circle of five people who are on quarantine with you, the possibility of bringing the virus into your body decreases. We are advised to limit how many people you are near and keep your distance. A third priority is disinfecting and handwashing. These steps will help to interfere with virus getting into your system should it come into your world.
In evaluating the level of risk at CSI we looked at all of our supports and how we needed to modify practices to protect the people we support, (many who are have compromised health) and our valued staff. It is easy to implement wash your hands, take your temperature, and social distancing. The challenge was limiting the number of people in any location where we provide supports, therefore limiting the number of potential exposures. The typical staffing pattern in a home (apartment or group home) where 24 hour staff support is provided is for staff to change shifts every eight hours. If this level of shift changes occur in a home it leads to 21 times that staff come and go. Twenty one times the virus could potentially come into the home. If there are two staff involved in those shift changes, you have 42 opportunities for potential exposure. We determined level of potential exposure needs to be contained where ever possible.
CSI is implementing a number of alternative supports and modifications to our supports. All measures have as the priority maintaining health and safety and allow CSI to continue to address the needs of those we support. Right now, the person’s needs are the driving factor in the decision to modify who provides their supports. In the future, it may be the availability of healthy staff. The scope of the supports will remain intact. Limiting exposure also helps to protect our workforce by containing the spread of illness amongst the staff. Should wide spread illness occur in our area, we must ensure we have enough healthy staff to meet the needs of those we support.
For the people CSI supports who live on their own and require only drop in supports, they are being visited daily by telephone or video chat. For people supported who have families who could take them home, we encourage that as well. If there are any urgent needs, staff would be deployed to assist in both of these situations.
Many employees have offered to bring a person they support home with them to self-quarantine for the duration of the crisis. In these situations, the potential exposure of shift changes goes from 21 to zero!
A number of teams will be going into the homes for long shifts. The team members will be allowed to sleep (with one person awake in homes where needed). The staffing will be three days on shift and after three days a second team comes in. This model reduces potential exposures to three times a week.
A number of teams have elected to have select staff move into the group home, again bringing the exposure from staff changes to zero.
I want to emphasize that the changes to staffing patterns will only occur if there are safeguards in place to ensure all the needs of the people who live in the home are met.
The staff who are being displaced by these staff changes will be able to fill in gaps in other homes or will be compensated for their time.
As more ideas are brought forward, they will be evaluated for ability to meet a persons needs, assurance of health and safety and level of potential risk of exposure.
CSI has closed its offices and all of our essential business functions are occurring remotely. We are using the same level of thoughtful planning to ensure CSI weathers this storm on the business front.
Through all of these changes CSI has strengthened our on call processes. Every person supported, therefore every home, has at least four CSI leaders that can be called if needed for guidance, support or an emergency. Our office phones are still functioning and are forwarding calls by extensions to the staff person’s cell phone. All senior staff are checking email throughout the day seven days a week. The senior teams in each CSI are meeting daily (by teleconference).
I hope that by sharing information with all in our CSI Family, it helps to alleviate some stress for everyone involved.
Please, be safe, be thoughtful in your actions and most importantly, be kind.