Innovative Partnership Brings In-home Covid-19 Testing to Seniors

WoodGreen, along with TCHC staff, and partners from the East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) Ontario Health Team,  including family physicians with East Toronto Family Practice Network (EasT-FPN) and nurses from Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) recently came together to create a pilot plan to bring in-home COVID-19 testing directly to some of our most frail residents, with the goal of expanding the on-site testing to other buildings.

“Our long-standing partnership with WoodGreen enabled us to act quickly to facilitate COVID-19 testing to some of our most vulnerable communities living in East Toronto,” says Jennifer Sampson, COVID-19 Assessment Lead at Michael Garron Hospital. “This is an excellent example of integrated care in action. We are grateful to all our community partners within our Ontario Health Team for their collaboration during this pandemic.”

“The Seniors Housing Unit and the East Toronto Health Partners were able to share resources and effectively collaborate together to bring onsite COVID-19 testing to 550 of our senior tenants.  WoodGreen staff and volunteers were instrumental in conducting tenant engagement and outreach alongside physicians, nurses and admin staff who administered the tests.  We look forward to building upon this collaborative effort with WoodGreen and the other East Toronto Health Partners in order to provide future health and social support initiatives to our tenant,” said Jaipreet Kohli, Access & Support Manager, TCHC Seniors Housing Unit.

“It was my pleasure to support the testing at 1420 Vic park. Without much time to prepare, our team did a terrific job to coordinate with partners, mobilize volunteers, gather resources, and inform tenants at the site. I believe while physical distancing is essential to protect seniors from COVID-19, it risks isolating them from the community and also increases barriers for seniors. This was a combined effort from the WoodGreen team, TCHC and Michael Garron Hospital. I have been engaged at this site for a few years so during the testing, it was significant for me to help in any capacity I could.”  Purnima Gupta (pictured above) WoodGreen, Community Health Facilitator

“At first, people seemed fearful of the test, but WoodGreen’s Personal Support Workers (PSWs) who had relationships with the seniors helped ease their minds and got tested themselves. We explained it was better to know if they were sick, and we helped encourage and reassure people.”

A few days prior, WoodGreen staff and TCHC were onsite in the building’s lobby providing testing information and education on what would be happening.

PSWs called all of WoodGreen’s clients and their families in advance to let them know about the plan, and anytime staff were in someone’s unit providing service before the testing, made sure to explain what was happening so that everyone had a chance to ask questions and feel comfortable.

Chandra Yaduvanshi, WoodGreen’s Supervisor, Assisted Living and staff from The Neighbourhood Organization helped do additional to reach seniors in buildings in Thorncliffe Park

During the testing, staff went floor to floor throughout the building with an MGH nurse and family physician from EasT-FPN., offering COVID-19 testing at the door. All residents were able to get tested in their homes, including clients who were bed bound.  Nearly 300 tests were administered.

“It was nice to have test in home while sitting on my wheelchair at home, but the test was uncomfortable!” Myrna M.P., Building Tenant

“The safety of this whole building is our shared responsibility,” said Laura. “All staff and residents got tested, and it was convenient and safe. Although we had many folks who were frightened to get it done, ultimately they were happy that they did it.”

The team has since brought onsite testing to a second housing location, adding another 160 in-home tests to our total!

We are working with our partners in the ETHP to scale this model to other neighbourhoods and share it with government to inform best practices across the province. Ultimately we have to come together to find ways to help our people stay safe in their neighbourhoods, and this type of comprehensive support is an important part of that work.

“It was really easy to get test on site with no line up, no taking time off. We got our test while working.” Coral Johnson, WoodGreen PSW.