This year presented many opportunities for Safehaven to embrace challenges within the health and developmental services sectors and continue our work to close gaps and eliminate systemic barriers. Despite the challenges, we achieved many accomplishments that we are proud of, including multiple provincial and national awards in recognition of our leadership. We were able to lean into our collaborative nature and our work with partners enabled us to live our values.
We were faced with similar, new and unique challenges in the second year of the pandemic – these range from staff retention, the introduction of new health and safety guidelines, and more. But Safehaven’s drive and determination to build a more inclusive world has been a leading factor in our organization’s success.
The work we have done would not have been possible without the support of our community as well as the partnerships that we have strengthened over the past year. Due to the implementation of provincial COVID-19 restrictions, Safehaven had to pivot our Respite Program to urgent and emergent respite care with the goal of minimizing the spread of the virus. Despite this obstacle, our partnerships with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), SickKids and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital allowed for us to support children who needed secure and safe placements as hospitals were over-capacity. We were able to work quickly and efficiently to ensure that all of our clients were receiving the necessary care directives when entering our care.
This past year, we expanded on our Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) program which allowed for us to not only protect our own vulnerable clients, but also the broader vulnerable population and sector. The continuation and development of our role as Toronto Region’s IPAC Champion and Collaborative Lead enabled us to examine innovative solutions and work towards better preparedness in infection, prevention and control practices. We were able to lead, coordinate and expand our IPAC education and services to help over 100 new partners in various sectors that include Violence Against Women, Youth Justice and Indigenous groups. Throughout 2021-2022, some of the IPAC services we provided were:
- Over 6,000 IPAC education modules attended
- Over 2,000 IPAC champion sessions attended
- 919 flu vaccinations
- 1,586 individuals swabbed and tested
- 411 patients fitted for N95 masks
With the success of our IPAC program, we are looking to further advance it thanks to the funding provided by the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS). The Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy awarded us with a $100,000 grant which will help us expand our education outreach across the province to make it more accessible. Additionally, the MCCSS has provided funding to help us translate our IPAC program into French with a goal of reaching even more people.
Increasing accessibility across the province is a priority we have been working towards as it will provide the vulnerable population with a better sense of belonging. We are tackling this goal in a number of ways. One of which is through our IPAC program, but the other is through finding solutions to affordable housing for individuals with disabilities and complexities.
This year, the continuation of our partnership with the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD) furthered our work to design care spaces that consider people living with medical complexities. Future leaders were educated on the gaps and inequities that exist within our sector and the healthcare system, and these students were able to apply their knowledge of Safehaven and human-environment behaviour to develop more accessible spaces for care.
Additionally, Safehaven is partnering with the Reena Foundation on the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing for Social Inclusion Project. This is a major step towards increasing accessibility and creating inclusive communities as the project will help bridge the gaps that exist in the siloed system. The goal of the project is to provide more affordable housing options for the vulnerable population and will allow these individuals to live within a community where they have the opportunity to thrive. Identifying these issues and finding innovative solutions to bridge the existing gaps is imperative to our mission.
The work that Safehaven has been doing with the community to change the perceptions about what it means to live with complex care needs has been recognized over the past year. In June of 2021, Safehaven received the Membership Leadership Awardfrom the Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS). In November of 2021, Safehaven was recognized by Children’s Healthcare Canada and was awarded the Children’s Healthcare Canada 2021 Organizational Leadership Award. Finally, in March of 2022, the Canadian College of Health Leaders recognized Safehaven as the Celebrating the Human Spirit Award winner. Altogether, these awards were a reflection of our ability to strengthen relationships (old and new), find innovative solutions to existing issues, and inspire a community to create change.
These achievements in 2021-2022 demonstrate the work that Safehaven has put into our mission and every one of them brings us closer to creating a more inclusive world where we all belong. The implementation of our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan will support us as we create more innovative solutions, strengthen and develop new partnerships and drive us to create positive change for the vulnerable population we serve.