This year has been an extraordinary one with the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been very little in our organization — let alone the world — that has not been significantly affected by this event.
Keeping families connected with our residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic continued to be a priority at McCormick Home this past year. The extreme, but necessary measures enacted by the Ontario government presented a number of challenges for staff, but were quickly met head-on with the swift launch of alternative methods to help people feel close, despite the distance. The home’s staff, under Tanya Pol’s extraordinary leadership, continue to recognize that, in addition to the many uncertainties presented by the pandemic itself, their most important job next to ensuring everyone’s safety is to help residents and families feel less anxious.
When the pandemic started, the home immediately stepped up their communication outreach to families to help them better understand and respond to the unfolding crisis. In addition to receiving semi-weekly updates on ministry directives and safety measures at the home, families received more frequent e-mailed photos of their residents engaging in various activities, as well as opportunities to set up personal videoconferences, to drop off special care packages for delivery, and to participate in important meetings with the administrator via Zoom videoconferencing. We know that, based on the many positive comments we received from our families, these efforts helped them to feel more at ease amidst all the uncertainty.
On a more sombre note, I am deeply sorry to share in this annual review that we lost a resident to COVID-19 during our outbreak at the home in December. We continue to remember our resident and their family, as a part of us will always share in a deep sense of loss over this tragic event. It is only through the extraordinarily diligent efforts of our staff that the infection was swiftly contained.
I also extend my appreciation to the McCormick Dementia Services staff for so adeptly accommodating the carefully measured reopening of our McCormick Day Program. Even though our in-person outreach programs have been limited, we continue to reach out to all our clients and families through recreation, nursing and support programs via Zoom videoconferencing and through one-on-one social work counselling online and over the phone. We also continue to add to the Caregiver’s Corner website, which contains a wealth of resources and educational programs designed to enhance the quality of life for those who are living with dementia and their caregivers.
In many respects, this pandemic has offered us the opportunity to be creative and deliver our services in new and unique ways. The limited-client capacity has provided day program staff the opportunity to extend our virtual reach as well as to gain experience in providing a new type of urgent service—including the use of personal protective equipment when working with clients, and maintaining a new strict standard of infection prevention and control cleaning practices. As we move through this stage and in close consultation with health officials, day program staff are gradually increasing the number of people we can safely bring through our doors. For the health and safety of all our clients, caregivers, and staff, it is a process that we are doing slowly and with extreme care. I wish to thank Karen Johnson, director of McCormick Dementia Services and all her amazing staff members for their expertise and unwavering commitment to helping our clients and families.
Despite the suspension of a number of in-person research projects this past year, I am pleased to report that we were able to launch a collaborative project with Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design as well as the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging on a virtual study of new product designs for people with dementia. We look forward to the results of these studies and to the full resumption of our research program and the learning opportunities they provide that enable us to continue in our efforts to deliver care of the highest quality and innovation.
As our partners in care, the McCormick Care Foundation has been an invaluable source of support, delivering a number of imaginative and successful virtual events and fundraisers under the difficult circumstances brought by the pandemic. I am grateful to Foundation director Michelle Hancock and the entire Foundation board for their unwavering commitment to us and to those in our care.
We have learned much at the McCormick Care Group over these last several months, and are working hard at incorporating the best of these teaching moments toward enhancing the delivery of our quality relationship-centred care with even greater fervor. While some of our strategic planning efforts were suspended during the initial stages of the pandemic, we are now resuming our work to plan an exciting future for our organization that has now been informed by our COVID-19 experience. We look forward to sharing our updated strategic plan with our stakeholders and resuming its execution once the urgency of the pandemic has passed.
In closing, I would once again like to express my gratitude to our extraordinarily dedicated staff who have been working tirelessly amidst a time when the only certainty appears to be uncertainty. However, with the ongoing rollout of vaccines in our community, we can now see a glimmer of hope on the horizon. And together with the unwavering support of our residents, clients, families and friends in the community, we continue to remain committed to keeping those in our care safe and supported. I am most proud to say that this demonstration of trust in our services has been both admirable and profoundly inspiring, and I look with great hope toward a bright future ahead.
Steve Crawford, CEO
McCormick Care Group