The last 12 months have been a period like no other for everyone across Canada and the world.
At Solva, we learned a lot about resiliency, about juggling work, children and home-schooling; about family and friends and hope and faith and support and about always doing the best we can, in the face of any circumstance. We saw first hand the ripple effects of Covid-19 in the community, without the virus having actually infected people – the restrictions, the uncertainty, the new protocols, the limits to visiting and the despair at trying to love and support a family member who couldn’t understand why things had changed. And for those we knew who did contract Covid, and for the souls who passed away, our sincere bewilderment at a possible, preventable loss.
The last year has also taught us gratitude and how to evolve to fit the needs of those who needed our help. Unfortunately people didn’t stop having falls, or strokes or memory care issues because there was a global pandemic. But our ways of supporting them did. We were no longer able to visit patients in hospitals to have a face-to-face visit and chat through their options for discharge. Nor go to people’s homes. Tours in retirement homes whittled down and we all embraced virtual platforms like Zoom and Google Meets. Our educational presentations switched from in person gatherings to webinars and we boosted our online presence with these by 70%.
We also saw how real the struggle was for so many families who – ordinarily face quite an overwhelming sea of options when considering senior living – but who now had to factor in a myriad of changes that impacted them and their loved ones. Our average time spent with clients guiding them through the whole process increased from 16 hrs to 23hrs, and on many occasions, we just listened as clients broke down on the phone with the stress and frustration of it all.
We also found that we were helping far more clients with our Rapid Response program. This is usually for those in hospital whose option to go home is no longer possible. They need to find alternative accommodations and their timeline is usually very short. Before Covid it was not unreasonable for us to have options, a decision and a planned discharge within 24 hours. With Covid we were still able to help and have new accommodations lined up for a patient to move to within 72 hours. Our Rapid Response Program increased from 68% of our client base to 87%. Our strong links with the hospitals, rehab centres and medical community enabled those needing support to have confidence in our ability to help them immediately.
We also grew our respected role as an educator, especially where it came to informing clients and the community of the intrinsic differences between Long Term Care and retirement homes. There was, and still is, a misunderstanding about ownership, operations, costs, process of admissions, management and governance. Through a series of podcasts, articles, blogs, posts and conversations, we covered this and many other topics of seniors housing and the changing landscape due to Covid. We are also launching a specialized Senior Living Insights podcast in the spring of 2021 and our first topic of conversation again will be Long Term Care. This time though, it will look at the whole process holistically and will feature industry experts including those from the LHIN and Ministry of Health. The free series will rely on industry knowledge from those who genuinely know the ins and outs and will provide an accurate guide for anyone considering LTC as an option for themselves or a loved one.
Despite all of the challenges in the last 12 months, we’re proud to have been top of mind for more than 500 people who got in touch with us, and to have actively assisted more than 200 of those with seniors housing referrals and support. Our retirement home partner network also grew and although we will work with every provider in the city, regardless if they partner with us or not, we are proud to say that 90% of the city’s homes do.
We look ahead with optimism and hope. The majority of staff and residents in retirement homes and Long Term Care homes have been vaccinated. This is huge! We wholeheartedly thank those who’ve been on the front line through all of this and who continue to show up day-in and day-out to do their jobs, despite the enormous toll it has taken on them. We pray for those whose health and lives have been affected by Covid and those who have lost loved ones to the virus. And we remain resilient and open to working as best we can with any and all changes that come, always ensuring we act with professionalism, integrity and honesty when supporting, guiding and advocating for our clients.
Your Solva Senior Living Team
Christine, Rachel, Caroline