Shelley Morris is the CEO of the Cridge Centre for the Family.
“The Cridge Centre for the Family is actually the oldest charitable non-profit operating in British Columbia,” Morris says. “We do work with immigrant and refugee families, victims of intimate partner violence, brain injury survivors, with children of all ages, with young parents, with families with children with disabilities, and with seniors.”
And all of the services provided by the Cridge have been deemed essential, and must continue.
“The first four weeks of COVID-19 were insanity,” Morris recalls. “In trying to figure it all out, and making sure that staff were safe, our clients were safe, that we came up with new routines.”
“Our average age is around 90, and yet, very high-functioning folks” says Alison Chamberlain, recreation coordinator for the Cridge Village Senior’s Centre. “We assist with meals, and a little bit of housekeeping and cleaning, and some medications. But other than that, these group of people are doing their own thing,” she said. “In fact, a lot of them did have a ton of community-based recreation pursuits that were keeping them really happy and were vital services for them, and they’re not able to participate in that anymore.”
“It’s been tough, and they’re strict, but everybody knows it’s for our own good,” says resident Ruth Goodenough. “The staff have been absolutely wonderful. [Recreation coordinator] Alison [Chamberlain] keeps us sane with the activities she’s given to us, like bingo, singalong, exercise classes.”
Chamberlain says staff are finding new ways to connect with their residents.
“We now have to figure out creative solutions of coming to the people, instead of them coming to us,” she explains.
“All of our tools that we’re using had to change,” Chamberlain adds. “So whether it’s hallway bingo, or hallway sing-a-longs, or [hallway] exercises, we keep things socially distanced, and also safe. The food services department is delivering trays ‘in costume’, and that adds to the recreation value of what we’re doing here. My evening team is doing a lot of one-on-one’s with clients, just sitting and talking in the doorway.”
The Cridge received $75,000 from the Victoria Foundation’s Rapid Relief Fund. Much of that money is targeting mental health supports, to ensure clients are coping in isolation.
“Many are dealing with perhaps intimate partner violence, or brain injury,” says Morris. “So they have challenges to overcome. And the isolation, and the weariness of that, is really challenging, and difficult. And so we want to put in place the kind of professional psychological supports to help people navigate that.”
Funds are also directed to personal protective equipment [PPE], which, Morris explains, are expenses that they never envisioned budgeting for in the past.
“As a charity, we never envisioned budgeting for PPE’s, beyond having a small supply if we had someone who had the flu, or something, and we had to go into their room to support them. But the volumes of PPE’s that are required in this circumstance have been a cost challenge to us, let alone finding them. If you can find them, and then [if you can afford to] purchase them.”
Morris credits and praises the hard-working staff for keeping everything going.
“One of the things that makes me incredibly proud is how our staff have shown up in this crisis. Many people have their own anxieties and concerns about COVID-19, and yet they come,” she says. “They come with creativity, they come with commitment. They are passionately caring about children and seniors, and our residents are so appreciative of that.”
As a resident in the assisted-living facility, Goodenough muses that “the thing that’s mind-boggling is it’s all over the world – it’s not just us in our institution, it’s everywhere!” And she agrees that knowing we’re all in this together, perhaps, makes the daily challenges that all of the residents are coping with a little easier to bear.