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Fall means flu and vaccination season at Northwest senior centres

Local senior centres in Macklin, Unity and Wilkie are engaging in proactive measures for their residents and staff, with vaccination clinics as one measure.

UNITY — As fall approaches so do preparations for cold, COVID and flu season in our communities. Important preparation is underway for area seniors’ centres.

SHA has arranged a flu clinic at Villa Marie in Macklin for Oct.16.

“Most of the residents received their last COVID booster shot on May 3, so they would ideally have to wait six months before the next booster shot,” Executive Director/Administrator Helena Hoogstad says.

“I have contacted SHA to find out whether they could come to vaccinate residents who choose to for COVID. They likely could but at this stage are not sure whether there will be a new vaccine available at that time or whether the last COVID booster will be used. We will be in touch with them as they receive further guidance about this matter.”

Residents who prefer to get vaccinated elsewhere have the option to do so.

Parkview Place in Unity is set for their in-house vaccination clinic Oct. 24, for both flu and COVID booster.

“The in-house vaccination clinics every fall are appreciated by residents and their families for the afforded convenience,” Manager Paula Sittler says.

Bethany Homes clinic will also be in October.

“They (Public Health) have not indicated if the COVID booter will be included that day,” says , Lynn Christiansen.

“If the booster shot is available at that time, they will combine the two as they have previously. It is convenient for the residents to receive the vaccines in the comfort of their own home.”

All of these community centres recognize the importance and value of proactive measures to protect residents and staff for the upcoming fall and winter.

“Both residents and staff are aware of the importance of always washing hands thoroughly,” Hoogstad says.

“We have many hand sanitizing stations and will keep sanitizing our hands when necessary. We clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly.”

“When a staff member is ill or experiencing COVID-like symptoms, we expect them to stay home until they have recovered fully; residents who are ill are encouraged to self-isolate in their rooms until they are well again. When it comes to vaccinations, we respect every person's decision but encourage people to get vaccinated. We are grateful that SHA comes to our facility to offer residents the option to get COVID boosters.”

While seniors’ centres enjoy hosting visitors, they strongly advise the public not to enter the facility if they are experiencing COVID-like symptoms or have recently been in touch with someone who is sick. Hoogstad says they ask their visitors to follow public guidelines and follow hand hygiene.

“We continue to operate our hands-free thermometer (generously donated by Compass Minerals in 2020) and give access to residents and families alike. We haven't had to deny entry to anyone in the past and hope to continue this trend going forward. This opportunity to monitor one's temperature is entirely optional; there are a few residents that continue to use it regularly.”

The staff at Parkview Place maintain the highest standards when it comes to cleanliness and sanitation, affirms Sittler. After every meal, tables and shared condiments are disinfected and every day, high traffic areas and handled surfaces are disinfected. The team at Parkview takes great care to minimize the risk of the spread of disease in their community living facility.

All centres say the majority of guests respect and adhere to extra care and caution, postponing their visits due to illness. Monitoring your own health with the best advice “when in doubt, don’t go out” goes a long way.

At Parkview Place, Sittler says when their seniors’ centre plans activities with school children, they try their best to ensure students practise the very best in hygiene manners.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, illness does make its way into our facility. Our policy has always been and continues to be that if a resident is feeling under the weather, we provide meal service in their suite. This practice ensures that the residents and staff in the dining room will have limited exposure. If a staff member is ill, they know to stay at home until they are well enough to resume work and will no longer pose a threat to our residents,” adds Sittler.

“Here at Bethany, we hope to avoid lockdowns like we saw in 2020,” Christiansen says.

Members of the public can access the Sask. Health Authority website or watch for social media posts and information around town as to when vaccine clinics will be available in their community.

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