COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update from Odyssey House

Odyssey House emergency shelter and second stage shelter are actively operating, but we wanted to share with the community some of the preventative measures we are taking at this time. Additionally, we will be providing updates actively moving forward to try and keep our community connected and informed on the shelter during the COVID- 19 situation. There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our residents, community clients, volunteers, employees and this community and we want to do our part to help keep it safe! While continuing to meet the needs and safety of the women and children, who rely on our continued operations and services.

As of Monday, May, 11th 2020:

  • We will not be receiving any donations at our donations facility door, we appreciate our community members generosity but for the time being please hold onto items you wish to donate. We are limiting access for community members to the shelter for the safety of everyone.
  • We have cancelled our weekly support group meetings moving forward, our Community Supports team is working to create an online group option to support clients. We will continue to update on this as it moves forward.
  • Our Daycare Centre is currently closed (we are offering childcare supports in emergent situations).
  • While we appreciate our volunteers eagerness to help support our organization, during this time we are currently asking our volunteers to stay home. Our volunteer program is temporarily paused, look for updates in our monthly volunteer newsletters. On behalf of our whole team, we appreciate your understanding and support now more than ever and if you have any questions regarding your current volunteer schedules or commitments please email or call 780-296-3380.
  • Our Community Supports teams have engaged in new strategies for online/phone one- on- ones and check in’s with community support clients. They are practicing contactless drops offs to clients for the delivery of essential items. Employees that are dropping off for clients at their home or in our shelter are dropping the items off on the porch or outside the door and have the client pick the stuff up after our team member has left. To all community members who may be in need of our supports, we encourage you to continue reaching out during this time, we are finding new ways to connect and support individuals digitally and via social distancing practices.
  • Our Public Education team is working remotely with out school division partners to provide our presentations: Healthy Self Esteem [Grades 3-4 Girls], Expressing Healthy Emotions [Grades 3-4 Boys] Bullying & Harassment (Part 1) & Healthy Peer Relationships (Part 2) [Grades 4-6] , Dating violence (Part 1) & Healthy Dating Relationships (Part 2) [Grades 7-12] available with Google Classrooms and or Zoom.  Additionally, they are working to get our community based presentations: How to Help!, Family Violence 101, Domestic Violence it’s your Business, Healthy & Unhealthy Relationships, Intimate Partner Violence available via Zoom, Google Classrooms and other online sources. 
  • Our employees working in house in both the emergency and second stage shelter are practicing social distancing and support our residents in practicing social distancing in all communal living spaces with the recommended distances being kept and active sanitation of areas and all door handles before and after residents access the spaces.
  • Odyssey House has been able to continue our monthly staff meeting through technology supports in order to ensure the best possible communication. We are working diligently to come together as a team to support our clients and each other during this time.
  • Our team was able to design a strategic plan that will be implement if someone in the shelter were to test positive for COVID-19.
  • We have direct confirmation from Alberta Health Services that they are able to send a nurse into our shelter to test for COVID-19 when symptoms arise. That being determined we are still urging that the self assessment online at Alberta Health Services be taken, and calling 811 if the assessment is telling us testing is required. A lab requisition is then submitted through 811 and the shelter is able to move forward with a nurse visit to test for COVID-19. 
  • AHS released their COVID guidelines specific to women’s and homeless shelters. Overall, Odyssey House is following all of these protocols. We will incorporate these into our internal plans and get these out to everyone by Friday.
  • We have continued to use and replace Personal Protective Equipment items including masks, gloves and gowns for use when appropriate.
  • Our team has reached out to community supports put in place and confirmed they are still able to actively support us in the event that we need more self isolation spaces in the future.
  • We are enforcing Alberta Government regulation & recommendations in the shelters, while maintaining our trauma-informed approach.

We are working diligently to meet the challenge of meeting the safety needs of the women and children, who rely on our continued operations and services.

The safety of our clients, community partners as well as the safety of shelter workers, are our top priorities. We are in daily communications with the YourAlberta (Government of Alberta) & the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) we are working to take precautions that align with the latest recommendations from Alberta Health Services .

We recognize that during times of natural disasters, there can be an increase in demand for shelter services as anxiety and external stressors can accelerate and exacerbate domestic violence situations. Evidence from previous environmental disasters and pandemics suggest that domestic violence will increase during and following this health emergency.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire management team, thank you to all Childcare Support Workers, Facilities Team, and Client Support Workers/Supervisors that continue to work the front lines daily. Thank you to our teams that have shifted their roles to working remotely in attempt to create a safer space in shelter but still support our necessary services.

The Federal Minister of Women and Gender Equality & International Development wanted to send a specific note to shelter workers nationally:

Words from Minister Monsef
“Please thank your members on the ground. They do God’s work. Warmly, Maryam Monsef”

We encourage anyone facing immediate danger to call ‪911. If you suspect that someone’s life may be in danger, please call ‪911. To speak to someone call our crisis line 1-‪780-532-2672. We are actively supporting clients via the phone, and finding innovative ways to do this online.

As much as many of us are isolating for public health directives, there are as many reasons to pay attention to the wellbeing of those in your community and offer to help!