Vaccinating Children with Complex Care Needs and How We Keep Them Safe in the Developmental Services Sector

As Canada experiences its fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Safehaven continue to expand and offer its Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) services and education to individuals in different sectors across the province, specifically the Developmental Services sector. With new COVID-19 virus strains emerging every few months, understanding what practices are best to protect individuals and groups has become imperative.

For individuals with complex care needs like cerebral palsy, down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and other developmental disabilities, their health and the care they receive is Safehaven’s utmost priority. Whilst being at a systemic disadvantage, as the vulnerable population already has troubles accessing adequate disability and complex care supports, having access to receiving the vaccinations that can protect them, and those they are surrounded by, against the virus has been crucial. While vaccination clinics have been taking place across the province, not all offer supports and accommodations for children and adults with complex care needs and developmental disabilities.

Safehaven has stepped up in the Developmental Services sector and community by organizing and hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics for the vulnerable population, their families, and individuals who work within this sector. Let’s reflect on the importance of vaccination within the Developmental Services sector, and what can be done to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Being Vaccinated and What It Means

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a race for doctors and scientists to develop a vaccine that can help protect individuals against the vaccine. Being labeled the endemic, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how it’s possible for the world to come together and come up with a solution – in this case, that is the COVID-19 vaccine. While it does not make one immune to getting the virus, it helps your immune system immensely if infected and can make your symptoms milder. Given that the vulnerable population is already high-risk and is immunocompromised, it gives more reason for them to be vaccinated and protected, which is what remains at the core of the work that Safehaven has been doing.

Offering respite and residential care programs to these individuals with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities, makes receiving the COVID-19 vaccine more necessary for both the staff providing care as well as the clients who receive the care. Putting clients, staff, family members and peers at risk of transmission and receiving the virus by not being vaccinated against it is not ideal and can be prevented, and if they fall sick to the virus, it can reduce the risk of transmission and symptoms immensely.

In the Developmental Services sector, the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is significantly high. For children and adults with complex care needs and developmental disabilities, this vaccine offers a layer of protection in the case they catch it; for those working within this sector, given that they provide care to these individuals, it allows for them to safely provide care to their clients, easing any worries they may have of spreading the virus and what risks it may entail. From mid-June of 2021 to January of 2022, Safehaven has hosted a number of clinics that gives the vulnerable population and the Developmental Services sector an equal opportunity to get vaccinated; where accommodations can be met upon request, accessibility is available at every location where the clinic is hosted, and more. These clinics allow for our residential and respite care clients to be treated equally and with respect which gives them a sense of inclusion within the community, something they don’t always feel they have.

What Steps Can Be Taken to Help Prevent the Spread?

For over 30 years Safehaven has been dedicated to providing individuals with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities with exceptional care to help give them a fulfilling life where they are respected and treated as equals.

Safehaven’s priority throughout the pandemic has been providing the necessary resources to help individuals working within the Developmental Services sector and individuals with complex care needs and developmental disabilities receive exceptional care and supports. Safehaven’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) program is an excellent resource which outlines key practices, education, resources and services that can help educate those working within the sector. Some of these resources include:

  • Hand hygiene practices
  • Enhanced screening
  • Isolation precaution and outbreak management
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of physical environments
  • Education modules

The education and services provided by Safehaven will help staff and fellow organizations in providing adequate care to the individuals with complex care needs and developmental disabilities they serve; and allows for healthcare providers to better the overall delivery of care to their at-risk clients.

In addition to the services that are listed above that can be utilized by healthcare providers, Safehaven continue to take on the role as leader and IPAC Hub Champion by providing additional resources that individuals with complex care needs and developmental disabilities, families, and fellow organization can turn to for more information about COVID-19 guidelines and what can be done. These resources offer a broad selection of guidelines within the workplace, educational institutions, respite and residential care programs, self-isolation, testing and when to test, and more.

Following IPAC practices and standards and educating those within the Developmental Services sector with this information is essential as a means of being able to prevent the spread and protecting clients and staff.

Do you require Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) support for individuals with developmental disabilities and complex care needs and staff who serve these clients? Safehaven provides IPAC services and education to the Developmental Services sector, and Safehaven provides residential and respite care programs in Toronto and across the GTA, with the goal of providing exceptional care and support to help individuals live a fulfilling life. Call us at 416.535.8525 or contact us here for more information.