It has now been five weeks since The Alex team (and the rest of the world), starting working within what we are now calling our “new normal.” We pivoted our operations to provide safe, effective care for our community members, with our main focus on following AHS protocols and health recommendations for our medical clinics and housing programs. Our group programs were paused, and our case manager and social work teams had to find new ways to connect while maintaining physical distance.
It’s been nothing short of an incredibly emotional, intense time for our teams, as we truly know the impact of social isolation, and how important having a strong community is, especially for those who are most vulnerable to experiencing poverty, homelessness, or mental health issues.
Across the social service sector, we have been required to adapt and ensure that no one is left behind or falls through the cracks during this crisis. We are also always keeping one eye on the future, in these most uncertain of times, to understand how the need is going to grow. No doubt that this is a medical crisis right now, but it is also an economic crisis, and will continue to be a mental health crisis as we slowly recover. Our work will be needed more than ever, and our community of vulnerable people will likely continue to grow.
So as we move through this collective unknown, the team at The Alex has done what we do best – be nimble, accessible, and kind.
We are really excited to share the new developments of how we are meeting the social needs of our community, to provide some positive stories of how we have maintained connectedness and found flexible ways to provide support when it matters most.
“The Alex Social Dispatch line, what’s your need?”
Today The Alex looks a lot different than it did a month ago. At the Community Health Centre, staff and those with medical appointments are met by a friendly team who check their temperature before allowing them to come into the space. Our Community Food Centre no longer buzzes with friends and neighbours sitting together for a delicious meal, and our lounge for our housing clients to meet together is quiet.
Instead, there is a whole new buzz of activity in these spaces. At the main CHC building just off the Franklin LRT station, our social teams (staff of social workers, youth workers, justice navigators, client resource specialists, case managers, food educators and more) are all manning a bank of phones (at a safe 6′ distance from each other), providing critical lifelines to our community.
Any current Alex client (either a patient or participant in any of our programs) is welcome to call in to connect with a friendly voice on the other end of the line. Our team are quickly able to triage each call to best understand what people need and how to best support them. Those feeling a financial pinch are directed to funding resources, or encouraged to sign up for our remote tax clinics, to make sure they are getting the benefits they are entitled to.
We may send them a grocery gift card to support their shopping if they are able to access a supermarket, or we can prepare a food hamper with recipes (think Hello Fresh) if shopping is not an option. Our team are organizing heaps of basic needs items, bringing diapers, formula, toilet paper and hand sanitizer to the doorsteps of families quarantined and unable to get their own items. Each Social Dispatch team member has access to a host of resources. We can direct and support requests for mental health and addiction supports, parenting questions, justice issues, educational resources, and financial resources, using our network of collaborative agencies and expertise.
We have a young 23-year-old mum who has four small children in her home, and all of them have suspected COVID-19, based on a remote assessment completed by our physicians. I was able to connect with our young lady and asked what essentials she needed for her family since her family of six cannot leave the house and must remain in self-isolation for 14 days. We were able to use $75 worth of gift cards and go shopping for the family, gathering essentials like flats of soup, eggs, apples, bananas, and Children’s Tylenol.
Upon arriving at the house, we took all of the groceries out and left them on their front porch, and called them to let them know the items had been left. We waited in the vehicle ensuring they got everything inside before leaving. I can’t think of a more tremendous gift than being able to provide a family in need with essentials, especially when their entire household is so ill and unable to leave the house. Having sick tiny humans is treacherous in any event, let alone a pandemic. The work that we do is invaluable to the community, especially during these trying and uncertain times.
Wondering how you can help?
Support our COVID-19 Relief fund with a cash donation, or learn more about how you can support us with bulk in-kind shipments.
In need of help?
In order to best serve our community, our Social Dispatch team is currently working with individuals and families
that have accessed The Alex prior to COVID-19.
If you are a current client of our Youth, Community, or Seniors Health Centres or our housing programs,
please call our Social Dispatch team at 403-718-3759.
If you are a resident of the Greater Forest Lawn area, you can reach us through our Community Food Centre at (403) 455-5792.
Our lines are open Monday-Friday 10:00 am -4:00 pm