How support services are changing

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our number one priority was to support the safety of the ALS community and our staff, and as a result, we quickly pivoted to moving all ALS Canada office staff to working remotely from home and made changes to our service model to include more virtual and remote support services in place of in-person visits.

Now, with more regions throughout Ontario moving into Phases 2 and 3, many of you have been asking how ALS Canada’s services will evolve. For the foreseeable future, here is what our services will look like:

  • Individual support. ALS Canada will be providing virtual and remote support in place of in-person visits. Regional Managers will continue to communicate with people and families living with ALS through videoconferencing, phone, email and/or text. We have received feedback from the community that this model has been working well.
  • Support groups. Support groups are now being offered virtually through videoconferencing technology removing geographical barriers, enabling increased participation. These sessions will continue to be offered in this format. For more information about upcoming support groups, please contact your Regional Manager.
  • Educational webinars. Webinars featuring a range of expert speakers on a broad range of topics will continue to be developed. Initially, the webinars were created with a focus on the impact of COVID-19 and will now transition to key topics of interest to the ALS community. To access previous sessions, please visit ALS Canada’s archived webinar playlist on YouTube.
  • ALS Canada Equipment Program. We will continue to provide mobility and accessibility equipment working in partnership with vendors from across the province with practices informed by recommendations provided by public health experts. We are currently accepting equipment donations prioritizing items of greatest need to our community.

Support services survey results

Given how much has changed in the past few months, in May we emailed a survey to people and families who access our services to collect feedback about the level of support they are receiving during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased to report that:

These have been challenging times and unchartered waters for all of us. Our commitment to innovation and your openness to changes in how we deliver support have resulted in an understanding that the way we support the ALS community and the way in which you need our support had to evolve. Even as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we know that the virus is still a risk and that the ALS community is considered a vulnerable population. The health and safety of our community and employees continues to be of utmost importance to us.

With all of this in mind, along with financial shortfalls that will be faced across the charitable sector, we are embracing the opportunity to do things differently going forward. We know that there will still be times when in-person support will be optimal and we hope to reintroduce it for specific circumstances (e.g. someone recently diagnosed with ALS, complex advocacy or support situations that are challenging to discuss virtually, etc.) in the fall, based on consideration of public health officials’ recommendations.

We appreciate your understanding and flexibility as our service model evolves to meet the needs of the ALS community while those needs and the external environment continue to change.