Response to COVID-19: Operational Update December 2020

This is certainly a time that will go down in history books. For most of us at Interior Community Services (ICS) it is a first for everything, adapting to a new way of being, living, socializing and working. Although the changes have been challenging and frustrating at times, there is also a sweet surrender and validation in some of the transformative and creative ways service delivery has emerged during this pandemic.

As an organization that offers essential social services, ICS has focused on what we have and not what we have lost. Programming and service delivery has adjusted based on the guidelines and recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Canada, BC Public Health Officer, Work Safe BC, Interior Health, and our primary funders, Ministry for Children and Family Development and Community Living BC. Now all ICS programs have definitive pandemic policies and procedures in place to ensure the health and safety of the people we serve and of our most valuable resource, our staff.

We know we are building the bridge as we cross the river, and course correcting as we go along, ultimately learning from our mistakes as business continues at a ferocious pace. The demands on the organization have actually increased, as the needs of the people we serve are more complex than ever. Resources are being leveraged and shared to meet the new needs and challenges. The meaning of success has been re-defined to keep people safe and keep staff employed.

Responding during a crisis is not for everyone as personal capacity and resilience vary but the momentum, commitment and positive energy from all ICS staff during this pandemic has been magical. The frontline staff are going over and above to connect and communicate with their clients 7 days a week. Residential workers are finding creative and fun ways to make isolation enjoyable and use technology to keep families united. Outreach teams continue to support vulnerable youth with wellness checks, meals and harm reduction supplies. The Community Food Centre is offering daily free meals, up to 1700 meals per week. The seniors shopping and wellness-check programs are helping over 250 seniors weekly. The entire admin team has shifted successfully to working from home. Staff are utilizing trailers to seek privacy and maintain confidentiality for counselling sessions. This is just a small sampling of the continuing operations during the COVID-19 pandemic at Interior Community Services.

The recovery stage will be slow and methodical and will follow the lead of our funders and health authority. We anticipate some programs and services may never look the same post-covid but will adapt to a new normal. Whatever the future holds, Interior Community Services is ready and will assess what we want, or need, to continue after the crisis is over.

In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry “Be Calm, Be Kind and Stay Safe”



Valerie Janz

Chief Operating Officer Interior Community Services