Keeping Our Communities Safe – COVID-19 PPE Initiatives

Berwick, along with other senior living operators, understand that PPE is crucial for protecting employees and residents and minimizing the overall transmission of the virus.  The global disruption of supply chains and the increased global demand for PPE has made access to this much needed equipment challenging and unpredictable, particularly for smaller senior living operators.

Berwick, among other senior living organizations from across the country (Amica, Revera, Sienna, Chartwell, Extendicare among others) joined together to launch and fund the CAPES project (Canadian Alliance to Protect and Equip Seniors Living) in early April as a collective effort to work together and support private pay operators in securing much-needed PPE (personal protective equipment).  CAPES secured 15 million pieces of PPE in April – all members over procured our orders by 35% to source reserve PPE supplies, amounting to millions of dollars of PPE that can now be made available to smaller operators. The equipment, including level 1 and 2 masks, isolation gowns and gloves, will be distributed across multiple channels with the reserve supplying those small operators most in need.

CAPES is anticipated to help source PPE for approximately 60% of the seniors housing sector to augment existing supply channels, which include support made available to homes through government and community sources. CAPES aims to offer smaller senior living operators the benefit of volume pricing for the reserve supply which is being offered at cost to these operators through an easily accessible private online hub.

The concept of a joint sector-based purchasing group to access a network of credible global suppliers and logistic channels was launched on April 5 by a small group of volunteers led by Dr. Wong, Melody Lo of RFA Capital, and Michelle Roth of Goodmans LLP’s Aging and Healthcare Platform, SenbridGe.  Within 12 hours of launching the initiative, lead members – Berwick Retirement Communities, Amica Senior Lifestyles, Chartwell Retirement Residences, Extendicare, Le Groupe Maurice, The Responsive Group, Revera Living and Sienna Senior Living committed their support and many more operators quickly followed.

Raymond Stone, the founder and former CEO of FutureMed volunteered to provide sourcing and logistics services at no cost or profit. Support from volunteers and partners such as RFA Capital, Goodmans LLP and SenbridGe, ShipFusion, PointClickCare, T&T Supemarket, MCAP, BMO, CIBC, TD, Cushman & Wakefield and Gardiner Roberts LLP have helped ensure the coordination and ongoing operations of the project.

CAPES’ reserve supply is being offered to senior living operators through sector associations across Canada, including BC Senior Living Association, BC Care Providers Association, Safe Care BC, Ontario Long Term Care Association, Ontario Retirement Communities Association, Advantage Ontario and Regroupement Quebecois Des Residences Pour Aines.

Berwick will continue to ensure availability of personal protective equipment in our communities to protect residents and staff. 

Why Berwick remains a safe choice during COVID-19

It has been a challenging few months as COVID-19 continues to impact our world. With seniors being among the most vulnerable population, Berwick has been vigilant in implementing the necessary policies and procedures to ensure the safety and well being of residents and employees. With all the steps being taken to protect our residents, retirement living can actually help seniors and their families feel reassured during these times. Our communities provide both health and social supports. Even though there have been times where residents have had to isolate in their rooms, our residents are never alone. Our families have found comfort in knowing that their loved ones are safe, have supports in place to provide them with the necessities they may need and have access to staff 24/7. 

“My parents are so happy and it’s mostly due to all of you, who are working so hard to keep them and the community safe. It gives our family a valued peace of mind knowing they are happy, safe and feel secure.” Berwick Royal Oak Family Member 

As physical distancing protocols remain in place, we have heard from many seniors in our local communities who have started to consider independent living. Although long-term care homes have been gravely affected because of COVID outbreaks, our independent living communities have provided a safe and secure environment for our residents. Our homes are adaptive to whatever changes may come and the safety of our communities and our people is paramount. 

“There is no place else I would rather be, especially during these difficult times. I cannot find words to tell you all how grateful I am to the wonderful staff of Berwick for keeping me safe, well fed and in good spirits.” Berwick Comox Valley Resident 

Here are the reasons why living in an independent community is safe during these times: 

Industry Leading Policies & Procedures:
Our communities are mandated to have robust policies and protocols in place to protect our residents. Berwick has been going above and beyond the direction of our Provincial Health Minister, Dr. Bonnie Henry. No stone has been left unturned during this process. The moment we closed our doors to the public was the moment we began planning to reopen our doors. It is important to note that we have significant experience in managing outbreak scenarios and are constantly reevaluating our policies in place to ensure they are industry leading. Our communities are always prepared to respond to illness outbreaks and other emergencies. 

We have multiple layers of safety protocols and infrastructure in place to protect our seniors. Here is a list of the following safety measures in place across all Berwick Communities: 

  • Outbreak protocols in place at all Berwick Communities
  • 24 hour support and security
  • Enhanced and increased sanitization stations 
  • Staff Members are now required to wear masks when physical distancing is not a possibility
  • Physical distancing decals have been placed throughout the communities to encourage safe distancing 
  • Active pre-screening for every essential visitor who enters any of our Berwick communities 
  • Single point of entry at all Berwick communities 
  • Bistros retrofitted with plexi-glass protective barriers 
  • Only disposables will be used for room service
  • All delivery carts will be sanitized between meals
  • Activities limited to ensure social distancing parameters are met
  • Virtual activities increased and available 
  • Increased virtual visits available for residents and family members
  • Onsite Tuck Shop stocked with essentials so residents don’t have to continue to leave the building 

“Please know that having my Mom living at Berwick is a dream, and her face continues to light up whenever anyone asks “Do you still like living there?” Her thoughts are why on earth wouldn’t you?  So thank you so much for all that you do in helping my Mom and so many others get through these unprecedented times.” Berwick House Family Member 

Mental & Physical Health Monitoring 
Our staff regularly monitor residents for any signs of illness for their protection. Unlike a senior who is living alone who may have challenges in seeking medical attention, our staff are here to support our residents and act immediately should any concerns arise. Our residents and their family members can feel assured that we are here to support them 24 hours a day should they need it. We also check in daily with every one of our residents through door to door visits.

“Just a note of huge thanks to say you have our unconditional vote of gratitude for everything you are doing at Berwick! We didn’t want to wait until the virus threat is over to tell you how happy we are with the way you manage ALL day-to-day operations, ongoing. So happy to call Berwick our home!” Berwick on the Lake Resident

Nutritional Support
Berwick has been more than prepared to continue providing the same, delicious nutritional meals during COVID. Although the dining areas have been closed for some time now, our culinary teams have been increasingly creative with delivery and presentation to make sure residents are still being engaged and enjoying their meals. As we begin to open up our dining areas again, we have outfitted the spaces with protective plexi-glass barriers to ensure the protection of both staff and residents. Despite everything, meal times continue to be entertaining, delicious and engaging! 

“All is well. Berwick is doing a fantastic job in keeping us well-fed and safe. Very happy that we live here. Thanks to all!” Berwick Qualicum Beach Resident 

Staying Active & Engaged
Berwick’s Active Living departments have been run off their feet with new ideas and implementing new virtual activities. Balcony dance exercise classes, physical distancing dance competitions, virtual yoga, the list goes on. Physical distancing has not prevented us from keeping our spirits high at all of our communities through engaging, fun and social (modified) activities. 

In addition, our Active Living teams have set up multiple stations for social connectivity with the outside world. Whether it’s a family zoom call, resident meeting or virtual birthday party, we continue to do whatever we can to facilitate connection. For more information about all the wonderfully positive stories happening at our sites, feel free to watch our #KeepingOurSpiritsHigh Weekly Videos on YouTube here:

“Well done! Everyone at Berwick is doing a wonderful job during this difficult time! It’s great to know our loved ones are safe at Berwick!” Berwick on the Park Family Member 

Quarantine Support
Berwick’s communities are equipped for quarantine situations. Staff are there to support a resident if they require isolation in their suite during an outbreak, including delivering three meals a day, continuing to provide care services, laundry and cleaning of their suite, and most importantly comfort and reassurance that everything will be alright. For new residents moving in and having to be in isolation for 14-days, the same supports are available. We have increased staffing to ensure that all the needs of our residents are being met, safely. 

“Thank you so much for the wonderful, thoughtful and great care you are giving to your residents.  I, and my family, are so ‘thankful’. This is an extraordinary time of crisis, and to have a professional, dedicated team taking care of our loved ones, is a blessing.” Berwick Campbell River Family Member 

Day to Day Support
Seniors may not only have care needs, but require help with things like getting to appointments, grocery shopping and meal preparation, and even companionship. When isolated, these tasks can become increasingly overwhelming for seniors and family members, and add in a pandemic, the sheer magnitude of stress can be daunting. 

Berwick’s communities provide both health and social supports; even if there is physical isolation, seniors are never alone. Our families have been so relieved knowing that their loved ones have been so well cared for, especially during these unprecedented times. Our seniors don’t have to wait in the long line-ups, they don’t have to experience the stress surrounding going to grocery stores and risk having essentials unavailable or having to risk contracting the virus. Meals, housekeeping, transportation, 24-hour support, activities and connection are all taken care of. 

“These are challenging times and Berwick deserves kudos for all of their efforts and measures taken to keep us well and safe. Thank you to each and every one of you. You are all so wonderful and that helps brighten the days.” Berwick Qualicum Beach Resident

Regular updates on Berwick’s Response to COVID-19 are kept in our COVID-19 Updates section.

Berwick Easy Eats

Every day, we ask ourselves the same question – ‘what am I going to cook today?’ Fortunately, our residents have the luxury of having a Red Seal Chef cook delicious meals for them on a daily basis, and we want to share this experience with you. Utilizing our current seasonal menus, local produce, and the amazing talent of our chefs, we are excited to present to you; Berwick’s Easy Eats! During this series, we will be visiting the sites and having our chefs demonstrate simple, and tasty meal ideas where you too can follow along at home. So sit back, relax, and we look forward to you joining us on this culinary adventure!

Keeping Our Spirits High Amid COVID-19

May 15, 2020

A message to all of our residents and families,

Happy Friday! It’s hard to fathom that summer is just around the corner, and we’re heading into May Long Weekend. We want to remind everyone that our Berwick physical distancing protocols are still in place at all our communities, and we appreciate your continued commitment in adhering to these protocols. While British Columbians can now ‘double their pandemic bubble,’ the provincial health order is still in place regarding essential visits only and we have not yet received permission to remove that restriction. We are carefully monitoring this and will update you immediately should this change. 

On the brighter side of things however, we wanted to send you off with some feel-good stories that we all seem to be craving more and more these days. We have launched a weekly video series called ‘Keeping Our Spirits High‘ to showcase all the innovative, inspiring and heartwarming moments that have been happening at our sites since COVID-19 began.

Watching these videos and seeing all the photos from the sites has brought us so much joy internally at Berwick, and we knew we had to share this with our greater Berwick family and broader communities. Thank you to our Berwick Employees for going above and beyond to show how much they care about our Residents. It’s truly extraordinary!

We will be posting these videos to our Berwick YouTube Channel, our Facebook page and right here on our website. Just click on the links above to be redirected to those web pages.

Stay tuned for another fun video series that we are working on behind the scenes that may alleviate some stress when it comes to meal times at home. 

In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry as we head into the long weekend: “Let’s make this our summer of care and consideration for our families, our communities and our province. A summer for us all to remember to be kind, to be calm and to be safe.”