In the second of our three-part series celebrating achievements from our programs throughout what’s been a difficult year, we’re sharing stories from two of our long-standing programs – Vancouver Apartments & Hobden House.

Story 1: Residents at VA Receive Their First Dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine

While COVID-19 can make anyone sick, some people are at a higher risk of more severe disease or outcomes from the virus should they get infected. Two residents at Vancouver Apartments (VA), Pierre and Katie, were identified as being vulnerable to COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic, which led us to put a range of robust measures in place to keep them safe. While it’s been a challenging year, folks at VA (residents and staff alike!) recently received the COVID-19 vaccine, which has hopes high for the future.

We spoke with Freya, the Residential Manager at VA about the program’s experience with vaccinations to date, here’s what she had to say:

I’ve been advocating for our residents to receive the vaccine since December when they began rolling them out in BC. I used so many avenues to identify our best chances of getting vaccines as soon as possible. I was in contact with Health Services for Community Living (HSCL), the Down Syndrome Research Foundation, Down Syndrome Support Groups, and advocated alongside Community Living BC (CLBC). A few weeks ago, we received notice that Katie and Pierre were eligible for vaccinations through HSCL, so we booked their home appointments right away.

Pierre’s HSCL nurse was actually the one that came to the house to administer their vaccines, and it was so nice to have a familiar face!

Staff have also received their vaccinations through Vancouver Coastal Health, which has been huge for our program. Staff have been really worried that they’re going to unknowingly pass along a virus to residents, so to be vaccinated has been a big weight lifted. It’s been a great feeling for everyone.

We aren’t getting our next doses until July. We can live with that if that means that more people around us get vaccinated than we’re even more protected. It’s good news all around.

We asked Katie (left) and Pierre (right) what they’re looking forward to once it’s safe, and here’s what they said:

VA resident looks at the camera while she receives her COVID-19 vaccine

Seeing my mom

VA Resident smiles at the camera while showing his COVID-19 vaccination certificate

 Having a snack with Tony (his brother) outside

Click here to learn more about VA & our other Community Living Services

Story 2: Residents at Hobden House Gather Safely to Connect & Celebrate

We also spoke with Kiawna, our Senior Residence Worker at Hobden House, who shares a positive example of how staff have worked to reduce experiences of isolation among residents below:

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the biggest thing that staff at Hobden House have dealt with was a decline in mental health amongst the residents. It was difficult for new residents because they were released in these circumstances and couldn’t do all the things that they have been waiting for years to do, nor could they see family right away (if they had any). They were restricted from seeing their usual associates, families, and a lot of them could not visit their homes unless they lived alone or we advocated that it was essential.

The rationale that we had was that if we can’t change the things that we have no control over, then we might as well do something to make things easier for them here. We held a physically distanced pizza party for one of the UFC fights in January as well as the Superbowl. The primary goal was to create a more fun and engaging space for our residents, while also preventing them from going out to restaurants where they would be around various people which would increase the risk of bringing COVID-19 back to the house.

several pizzas and pizza slices sit on a kitchen table, with two indistinct people in the back: one of them has another pizza that appears to be going into the oven

We established COVID-19 rules for the space (e.g. masks when not eating, sitting apart from each other, etc.) and we had approx. 6 people attend. Some of them went out and brought snacks and pop which they didn’t have to do but they mentioned that they wanted to contribute since staff are doing this for them. The events allowed staff to converse and engage with residents altogether which we haven’t been able to for a long time. The residents were grateful and many laughs were shared amongst them. We plan to continue doing this as long as there is a demand for it in the CRF (community-based residential facility).

Check back next Tuesday for our final COVID-19 reflection series, which highlights positive experiences, memories, and updates from our programs amidst the pandemic.

Want to learn more about how JHS Pacific has navigated the pandemic?

We have written a handful of blogs to date on COVID-19; the unique impacts that the pandemic has had on the people we serve, and how our organization has worked to support people throughout this time.

                Read our COVD-related blogs here 

We’ve also shared updates on new programs that we have developed in response to COVID-19 in our annual report.

Check back on our blog next week for the last of our 3-part series!

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