A message to our service users (the continuity of our services)

As federal, provincial and municipal governments continue to take bold steps to prevent or slow down the spread of COVID-19, we wanted to take a moment to share with you how we at the John Howard Society are doing our part to help flatten the curve while also ensuring that we are able to support you through this difficult time. We are focused on doing everything we can to ensure that you, our staff teams, and the community stays safe during this difficult time.

JHS Programs & Services

We recognize that the programs and services we provide are essential for you and for others in the community. With the exception of our Vancouver Community Services office, JHS services are still running, though may have limited or modified services during the COVID-19 crisis. We are doing everything we can to provide you with the support that you need while ensuring that we are keeping you, our staff teams, and our communities safe.

We had to make the difficult decision to temporarily close our Vancouver Community Services office as an important measure in doing our part to help flatten the curve and try to eliminate any potential spread of COVID-19. While our drop-in programming is temporarily closed, our CSO volunteers and staff will continue to be available to support you over the phone or via email to ensure that we can support you in meeting your needs, particularly in response to COVID-19.

We want to assure you that we are doing everything that we can to keep you, your loved ones, and our staff team safe and healthy during this time.

We’ve implemented the following strategies to do just that. A few of these steps include (among others):

  • We are asking staff to stay home if they are sick, have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days, or have been in direct with someone who is showing symptoms.
  • We are putting limits on who can enter our residential and program sites so that anybody that needs to access those spaces are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19.
  • We have increased and improved our efforts to keep all of our sites as clean and disinfected. We are cleaning more often, using the best techniques available to kill off any harmful germs.
  • If a resident, staff member, or service user becomes sick, we have systems in place to minimize your chances of being exposed to the virus through them. Similarly, if you yourself get sick, we have prepared systems and plans in place to support you.
  • We are restructuring client outings to limit your exposure to COVID-19 while also ensuring your most essential needs related to your health and wellbeing are met.
  • Our management and staff teams acknowledge your individual needs, and have plans in place to ensure your needs will continue to be met even in the event that the JHS staff person that supports you gets sick.
  • All of our staff are well aware of the best preventative measures available to us to avoid getting sick, which they will continue to share with you and help you incorporate into your day-to-day life on an ongoing basis.
What we need from you to help to make our efforts effective:

COVID-19 is highly contagious – and we need your help to prevent it from being spread. For everyone’s safety, we are asking service users to follow the same precautions if you are sick or have been in direct contact with someone who is sick. Please help us ensure everyone’s safety by following the steps below to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands. Often, especially if you’ve been out in public (like going to a store) with lots of soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. If it helps, count to 20.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow. This stops germs from getting on other people, or on surfaces that others will touch.
  • Avoid touching your face. Including your eyes, mouth, and nose. This is how germs get into your body, so if you need to touch your face, wash your hands first using the steps above.
  • Try to limit your social interactions, and when you need to be around other people try to stay at least 2 meters (2 arms lengths) from each other. While we recognize that this may be really hard to do, avoiding contact with others is a very important step in preventing you from being exposed to COVID-19. Remember, most people don’t show symptoms, so even if you think your friend is not infected, they may be without knowing it. While this will create changes in your day-to-day routine, there are tons of alternative fun and engaging things that you CAN do – from online mindfulness classes to music concerts, ask your JHS worker for some great ideas!
  • Please do not access services in person if you are experiencing any symptoms. If you are feeling sick, please contact your doctor or call 811 or 1-888-COVID19 to speak to a health service navigator. Our staff can assist you in this if you need help.

Please contact us if you have been accessing JHS services recently and have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Our teams will continue to support you, but we will ensure that do this in a way that keeps other service users and our staff team safe and healthy.

You can help our entire community stay safe and healthy by following the strategies above.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 – what it is, how it spreads, how to prevent it, or any other questions – we strongly encourage you to reach out to your JHS worker. We will be happy to work with you to enhance your understanding, and to ensure that you are aware of the situation as things continue to evolve.

We are here to support you through this – no matter how frustrated, scared, or confused you may feel – we are here for you!

For most of us, this is the first time in our lives that a pandemic of this magnitude has personally affected our lives. This is an understandably scary and difficult time for our community, but I want to assure you that we are doing all that we can to keep you safe, comfortable, and healthy, and we will continue to do so into the future. I would also like to emphasize that we are here to support you with your needs and goals – so please get in touch with your JHS Worker if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas of how we can support you better!