CASS Senior Leadership is closely monitoring the situation with respect to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and following the recommendations of Alberta Health Services, Health Canada, and the World Health Organization.
While the risk in Alberta remains low at this time, the risk is rising and the situation is very fluid. CASS is taking significant measures to ensure the safety of all clients and staff and to slow the potential transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in order to reduce the strain on our health care systems and promote the well-being of all Calgarians.
The CASS Senior Leadership is meeting regularly to stay up to date on this rapidly evolving situation and to to ensure that all program areas, staff, and clients are full supported. In addition to meeting with each other, we are also in regular contact with our funders, participating in a weekly zoom meeting with the Calgary Service Provider Council, meeting every other week with Assistant Deputy Ministers John Stinson and Jason Chance, and participating in provincial Town Halls with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Dina Hinshaw and the Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney when the opportunities arise.
December 10th Update:
Following the announcement from the Government of Alberta on December 8th, the CASS Main Office will return to Phase One of our re-opening strategy until at least January 12, 2021 at which point we will re-assess the situation:
- We will not be hosting any classes or clients on site at the CASS Main Office
- All office staff with the exception of the Senior Leadership Team, and the Admin Team will be working remotely
- Members of the Senior Leadership Team and Admin Team will also be working remotely to the extent possible
- CASS Office staff will remain available via email and their CASS Main Office phone extensions which will route incoming calls to their cell phones
Supervisors will be in contact with program staff in the event that program operations are affected by the new public health measures.
Calgary Alternative Support Services will continue Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution from the CASS Main Office over the holiday season, with a minor change in dates. If you require PPE and are unable to make it on one of the pick-up days identified below, please connect with your supervisor. The upcoming dates are as follows:
- Friday, December 11, 2020 – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
- Monday, December 14, 2020 – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
- Wednesday, December 23, 2020 – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
- Tuesday, December 29, 2020 – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
You can find the most recently announced public health measures from the Government of Alberta here: https://www.alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx
November 17th Update:
The physical portion of Non-Violent Crisis Prevention and Intervention (CPI) training has been suspended until further notice.
CPI continues to be mandatory training for all staff. Staff will still be able to complete the online portion of their training and obtain their blue certification card, however, that card will come with an asterisk stating that the physical component has not been completed. Staff will be required to complete the physical component once we begin offering that service again in the future.
November 12th Update:
As a result of the recent increase in new and active covid-19 cases in the Calgary area, CASS has enacted additional safety measures including mandating continuous masking and use of goggles while providing direct support and additional precautions during meal times at Overnight Staffed Residences.
Staff that recently returned to work out of the CASS Main Office were informed that their presence there is once again at their discretion. We continue to enforce segregation of staff into separate groups whose attendance is scheduled such that members of separate groups will never be on site at the same time so as to minimize the impact of a prospective exposure event.
September 28th Update:
Effective September 14th staff that typically operate out of the CASS Main Office have returned to the office on a staggered schedule that limits the number of people on site at any given time and reduces the threat posed to staff by a potential exposure event. The doors remain locked and CASS is not currently accepting clients at the CASS Main Office. All visits by anyone that doesn’t typically work out of the CASS Main Office are by appointment only at this time. Reception is once again answering the phone and directing incoming calls.
Effective September 11th 2020 The CASS Main Office Covid-19 Safety Protocols document was updated to version 1.1. Updates Include but are not limited to:
- A new section about maintaining physical distance when possible
- A new section stipulating that face masks are required at the CASS Main Office when not at personal workstations or when unable to maintain physical distance
- A new section on the removal of all shared non-essential resources (ex: cups, utensils, sugar, creamer etc.)
- A new section regarding meeting room use and sanitization protocols
- A new section about incoming mail delivery processing protocols
- An update to meeting host responsibilities
- Updates to protocols described in Stages 3 and 4 of office re-opening.
Effective September 25th The CASS Pandemic Plan was updated to version 1.4. Updates include but are not limited to:
- Updates to the training section to reflect new staff training requirements
- An all new client transport protocol
- A new section on how to safely and effectively use bleach as a disinfectant
- Updates to the screening protocol
- A new section about getting to and from work safely
Effective September 25th 2020 The CASS Covid-19 Screening Questionnaire was updated to version 1.3.
June 29th Update: – CASS Main Office Covid-19 Safety Protocols Document Published
The CASS Senior Leadership Team, in collaboration with the CASS Health & Safety Committee have developed the ‘CASS Main Office Covid-19 Safety Protocols’ document which is available on the CASS File Server and also on the Forms and Documents page of the CASS website after logging in.
The ‘CASS Main Office Covid-19 Safety Protocols’ document is a companion document to the CASS Pandemic Plan, and describes the various precautions that have been implemented to ensure that the CASS Main Office continues to be a safe work site as we begin to welcome back more staff to the CASS Main Office, and eventually, clients and visitors.
June 4th Update: – New Training, All Core Mandatory Training Available, Hiring Freeze Lifted
- All CASS employees have been assigned Covid-19 Employee Health and Safety Training via HRDownloads.com
- CASS is now offering Abuse Awareness Training and Challenging Behaviours II training as self-directed online courses.
- CASS is resuming our Non-Violent Crisis Prevention and Intervention Training (CPI) courses in late June in a hybrid online and in-classroom training model that will reduce the amount of time spent in class.
- First Aid trainers have started offering in-classroom training once more. Check https://ohs-pubstore.labour.alberta.ca/fa018 for a list of Government of Alberta approved First Aid trainers
- Because staff are once again able to meet all core training requirements, and we are now able to complete recruitment and orientation remotely, we are lifting our hiring freeze effective immediately
May 4th Update: – Government of Alberta Updates
- Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) has published a set of interim policies to help address service delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can find those polices at the following URL: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/interim-persons-with-developmental-disabilities-pdd-policy
- Alberta Health has released a Questions & Answers Document pertaining to the visitor policy detailed in the recent Public Health Order, CMOH Order 14
May 3rd Update: – ABTraceTogether App
- The Government of Alberta has launched the new ABTraceTogether App for smartphones.
- The app is designed to help AHS staff conduct contact tracing work by logging any time a phone with the app is in close proximity with any other phone that has the app installed using Bluetooth.
- In the event that an individual tests positive for covid-19, that individual can choose to share the log of contacts created by the app.
- The CASS Senior Leadership Team believes that this app is likely to be of great value in helping to combat the spread of covid-19 and does an adequate job of protecting privacy and confidentiality. As such we encourage everyone to install and use this app on their smartphones.
May 1st Update: – Pandemic Plan Updated to V1.3, PPE Training Available
- While we are excited to hear the re-launch strategy shared by the Government of Alberta yesterday, CASS will not implement any re-opening strategies at this time. Until further notice, CASS will continue with it’s current COVID -19 protocols and practices.
- The CASS Pandemic Plan (available for staff on the forms and document page of this website after logging in) was updated to version 1.3 with additional information added regarding:
- Covid-19 itself
- Personal Protective Equipment
- a series of info-graphics from Alberta Health Services
- Optional training on Personal Protective Equipment has been assigned to all employees
April 26th Update:
- The Government of Alberta has made an important announcement about income exemptions for AISH and Income Support recipients who have received federal emergency benefits. Read more here: https://www.alberta.ca/aish-income-support-and-the-canada-emergency-response-benefit.aspx
- The Government of Alberta has published a plain language guide about Covid-19 for people disabilities which can be found here: https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/css-covid-19-plain-language-guide-for-people-with-disabilities.pdf
April 24th Update:
- The Government of Alberta has started supplying service providers with masks which has put CASS in a position to provide masks to our subcontracted Support Home Providers and Supportive Neighbours (where required). Subcontractors should contact their CASS Coordinator to coordinate distribution.
April 20th Update – Media Relations & Additional Optional Training Assigned to all Frontline Staff:
- CASS Senior Leadership continues to work on the following:
- Procuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from a number of sources in order to ensure that our supply remains sufficient for the duration of this pandemic
- Updating our Pandemic Plan to provide additional details where there is opportunity to do so
- Applying for grants through the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) program, the Calgary Homeless Foundation, and the Mental Health and Addiction COVID-19 Community Funding grant in order to address unanticipated costs and community needs related to the covid-19 pandemic
- day to day operations, including year end & contract submissions
- The CASS Senior Leadership Team requests that all media inquiries be forward to the CASS Senior Leadership Team so that they can be addressed by the appropriate Director
- Optional training for Safe Food Handling and Medication Administration has been assigned to all frontline staff and Coordinators as a proactive measure to improve staff portability across program areas and positions in order to help ensure continuity of care for the the individuals we support who are most vulnerable.
April 8th Update – CASS Pandemic Plan Update to V1.2:
- The CASS Senior Leadership Team published version 1.2 of the CASS Pandemic Plan which includes the following updates:
- program modifications for all program areas
- a section on PPE including instructions on how to apply and remove PPE
- information for our Overnight Staffed Residences, Langin Place and Stepping Stone Manor about how to access the specialized online self-assessment tool for essential services staff
- information on how to report an outbreak
- Information on a new screening protocol and tool and more
April 3rd Update – Pandemic Plan Updated to V1.1, Essential Service Designation Letter Issued, Expense Claims Paid via EFT, Med Admin Proficiency Tests Available Remotely:
- The CASS Senior Leadership Team published an updated version of our Pandemic Plan which has been tailored to specifically address the Covid-19 Pandemic. The most current version of this plan is available for staff on the Forms and Documents page of the CASS website after logging in. This plan should be considered a living document and additional updates should be expected in the coming days and weeks.
- All agency staff were provided with a letter signed by our Executive Director Stacy Schikowsky for staff to keep with them to demonstrate that their role with CASS is considered to be an essential service as defined by the Government of Alberta (see March 31st Update Re: Essential Services Designation Below)
- Effective today, all Expense Claim payments will be issued via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
- Medication Administration proficiency tests can now be completed remotely
April 2nd Update – Child Care Spaces Expanded to all Staff Designated as an Essential Service:
- On April 1st the Government of Alberta provided an update to indicate that the child care spaces that were opened up for AHS staff and first responders have had their eligibility expanded to include all staff that fall under the recently defined list of Essential Services. If CASS staff require child care, you are encouraged to learn more about this opportunity by viewing the Government of Alberta’s web page about expanded child care spaces for essential services.
March 31st Update – Essential Services Designation and Agency-Wide Video-Conferencing Meetings:
- On March 30th the Government of Alberta published its list of Essential Services which includes disability support staff. This is an important development in the event the government moves to any make further restrictions.
- Last week the Government of Alberta announced new requirements for all licensed homes. CASS Overnight Staffed Residences are not licensed as they do not have 4 or more individuals living in them, however, CASS will be incorporating many of the requirements that were imposed on licensed homes for our Overnight Staffed Residences.
- The CASS Senior Leadership Team has invited all agency staff to participate in agency-wide video-conferencing meetings and question and answer sessions which will be held every other week on Tuesdays alternating between morning and evening. The next agency-wide meeting will be held on Tuesday April 28th. Minutes from these meetings are shared with all agency staff via email.
March 27th Update – CASS Main Office Closed, Infection Prevention and Control Training Assigned to all Staff:
- Effective April 1st the CASS Main Office is closed to all guests and staff excluding the CASS Senior Leadership Team and administrative staff. Senior Leadership and admin staff are encouraged to work from home to the extent that they are able to but may work from the CASS Main Office as required.
- All CASS staff have been assigned ‘Infection Prevention and Control’ as mandatory training.
- Incoming calls will be addressed by our auto-attendant. CASS Main Office staff remain available via the main office phone extensions via call routing.
Enhancing Sanitation Measures
All CASS worksites (the CASS Main Office, Creative Community Living Activities, Stepping Stone Manor, Langin Place and our Overnight Staffed Residences) have all had their existing sanitization measures significantly enhanced in order to reduce the threat of transmission. All touch surfaces are being sanitized regularly.
We have also secured an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, cleaning, and sanitizing products to ensure that the needs of all of our worksites are adequately addressed.
Promoting Good Hygiene
As always, everyone is encouraged to ensure that they are practising excellent hygiene including:
- frequent hand-washing
- avoiding touching your face
- coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue
- limiting physical contact (no hugs or handshakes)
- If you are wondering if you should be tested for covid19, please use the web-based assessment tool provided by AHS which is available at the following URL: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
- Contact your primary health provider or Health Link 811 if you have questions or concerns about your health.
Read more about best practices regarding hygiene, and sanitization here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html
CASS staff have been instructed not to attend any CASS work site if they are not feeling well and instruction has been provided on how to address the potential need for self-isolation.
In the interests of helping CASS to coordinate our staffing needs and service delivery, we are requesting that clients and staff inform their supervisor(s)/coordinator(s) if they have recently travelled outside of Canada, have plans to travel outside of Canada in the next month, or if they have reason to believe that they have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Modifications to CASS Operations
Effective March 13th 2020, modifications were made across all program areas.
A hiring freeze for all external applicants has been put in place. CASS will will still engage in internal hiring/transfers but at this time external applicants are not being considered due to an inability to provide required training. Exceptions will only be considered in cases where external applicants come with all required training.
At this time, all CASS programs remain operational, albeit with modifications to operations. Some of these modifications have resulted in freeing up staff so that they can be re-assigned to other program areas in order to ensure continuity of critical services. Thank you to our excellent staff for their dedication to maintaining the essential supports that we provide to clients of CASS.
Program-specific details regarding modified operations have been communicated to staff and clients in those programs.
CASS is also suspending all non-essential gatherings until further notice including but not limited to:
- All on-site training (CPI, Abuse Awareness Training, Challenging Behaviours II, Mental Health First Aid, All in-person CAPSH training)
- Dinner Club
- CADO Art Class
- Emotion Commotion Workshops
- CAES Employment Preparedness Workshops
- Money Matters Financial Literacy Workshops
- Spinz-A-Round Food Distribution Program
- CASS Advisory Committee
- Friendships and Dating Workshops
- All client initiated sales or gatherings at CASS worksites
- All In-Person Committee Meetings (remote meetings can proceed as required)
In addition to the above, wherever possible, staff are being encouraged to work from home, and to meet with clients, staff, and others remotely (over the phone or via remote meeting software) rather than in person. See communications from your respective Director(s) if you are unsure if this applies to you.
Staff that operate out of the CASS Main Office remain accessible via their phone extensions and CASS reception.
CASS administrative operations remain fully functional at this time.
Administration staff are being asked to work from home where possible, but may work from the CASS Main Office as required.
All Expense Claim payments will be issued via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) in order to reduce the need for staff to come to the CASS Main Office and our reliance on Canada Post.
Please see the resources below from Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Government of Alberta (GoA), the Government of Canada (GoC), and other resources.
- CASS Pandemic Plan V1.4 (PDF)
- CASS Main Office Covid-19 Safety Protocols V1.1 (PDF)
- CASS Covid-19 Screening Questionnaire V1.3 (PDF)
- GoA COVID-19 Info and Resources
- AHS COVID-19 Info and Resource
- AHS COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool
- AHS PPE Donning & Doffing Instructional Video
- Alberta COVID-19 Statistics
- GoA COVID-19 Support for Employers and Employees
- GoA Supports for Albertans
- GoA ABTraceTogether Contact Tracing Smartphone App
- GoC COVID-19 Info and Resources
- GoC Support for Individuals and Families (including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit)
- GoA Update Re: AISH Income Exceptions for federal emergency benefits
- City of Calgary COVID-19 Response
- ACDS Pandemic Planning Resources
- Homewood Health Tips and Tricks for Working from Home (PDF)
- AHS Tips for Working from Home (PDF)
- Coping Skills Toolbox (PDF)
- Psychological Coping During a Pandemic from the Psychologists Association of Alberta (PDF)
- Plain Language Information on Covid-19 / the Corona Virus from the Government of Alberta (PDF)
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the CASS Senior Leadership Team by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support.
Stay safe and healthy everyone.