Business as Usual: Compassionate Care in the Midst of COVID-19

Centre of Hope staff
by Alberta

In these times of uncertainty, The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope in Edmonton is continuing to put its best foot forward during COVID-19. The health and care of all residents and staff is its top priority and each location has been following Alberta Health Services’ requirements for extra cleaning, increased hand washing, sanitization, no visitations, and physical distancing without compromising client care.

The Centre of Hope is the umbrella for five Salvation Army residential facilities: The Addictions and Residential Centre (ARC), Cornerstone Residence, Grace Manor senior’s care home, Keystone Residence, and Stepping Stone Supportive Residence. Each facility provides unique programs and services for the men and women who call them home.

Alberta Health Services has provided the Centre of Hope with assessment tools for when a resident shows any signs of having symptoms related to the virus. This includes receiving a mask, filling out a questionnaire, and having their temperature checked. Grace Manor seniors were immediately isolated in their rooms and have their meals delivered, while other locations have a designated vehicle and driver to take residents to the Edmonton EXPO centre, where they self-isolate for the recommended 14 days before returning.

The difficult decision to cut out visitations at Grace Manor came four days before Alberta Health Services announced their health and safety recommendations for senior homes. Being prepared and ahead of this pandemic is a top priority.

“In all of this, the biggest thing coming out for our staff is their innovative thinking to do things differently, because we have to do things differently,” says Major Elaine Bridger, Executive Director of the The Salvation Army’s Edmonton Centre of Hope.

The temporary shut down of Transformations, the addictions and recovery program at the ARC, was a challenging decision to make. Implementing physical distancing and other recommendations by Alberta Health Services made it difficult to house the 24 men in the program and continue to deliver effective programming.

“The rooms are tiny, and they need group therapy. They’re in a group. They learn from each other,” Major Bridger said. “We couldn’t manage that with the current setting. Men were finding it difficult.”

The Salvation Army will continue to support the men by providing weekly check-ins and talking with counsellors by telephone, one-on-one.

The compassion observed in the local community has made these times easier for staff. The Christian Reformed Church of St. Albert has produced masks that seamstresses will make for frontline staff. Tim Hortons also made a stop to provide donuts and drinks to shelter staff. The gratitude is felt, and the staff feels appreciated by these acts of kindness.

“Morale is pretty good but some of the outside factors, like family and the fear of COVID-19, which has nothing to do with work, but work does compound that and adds another complexity,” said Major Bridger. “We want them to know that they’re valued and important.”

The focus at Centre of Hope is to continue to provide compassionate care for the residents. The Salvation Army will continue to support staff, residents, and volunteers as we continue to make their safety our top priority.