A First-Hand Look at How Our Clients Are Managing Through COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us, but the challenge it has posed for those in the nonprofit and social service sectors is unique: what happens when the organizations that normally help vulnerable people suddenly become vulnerable themselves?

We reached out to our customers to check in on them and learn how their organizations are addressing and overcoming the hurdles presented by the pandemic and how they’re adapting to life after quarantine. Here are some of their answers, which have been paraphrased to preserve their anonymity.

How are you and your organization managing through COVID-19?

“We have adapted very quickly to the COVID-19 crisis with the support of funding entities who understand the need for continued services despite some shifts in how they’re provided. We already had multiple licenses in place for our video conferencing tool and were quickly able to switch to providing teletherapy for most of our clients.”

“We are currently doing very well through the shutdown. We immediately transitioned to telehealth and home visits when the government announced restrictions, and that helped put us in the great position we are in today. We have actually hired more staff to keep up with the increased demand for services and the surge in referrals as restrictions are easing up.”

“The initial chaos has been replaced with a steady grind. Most of our admin staff are able to work effectively from home while our front-line staff are considered essential workers because they provide services to vulnerable people.”

“The majority of our staff are working from home while a few (about 3 out of more than 40) still work on-site. We are providing appointments to clients via phone call and video conferencing software.”

What unique new challenges are you encountering?

“We have had a number of challenges due to COVID-19, but one of the biggest is figuring out how to account for the time staff have to spend driving to their clients’ homes for appointments now that meeting at our clinic isn’t an option. We can’t charge the client for that extra travel time and we’re not sure how to deal with that yet.”

“It has been difficult communicating COVID-19 protocols to clients. The disruption of normal routine has been hard for clients and staff members, and mental health issues like depression are starting to emerge.”

“One of our initial challenges was getting intake paperwork to clients electronically, but now that all our paperwork is in the system, we’re able to use Penelope to do this.”

How are you keeping your staff informed, engaged, and healthy?

“Most staff are isolated at home, but those of us who are still working on-site are in very small numbers with lots of space around us and we have lots of sanitizing options. As for keeping staff informed, we’re having more frequent catch-up meetings in the morning to work through issues and managers do weekly update reports to let us know about changes within the organization, which have been rapid and extensive.”

“We engage staff in weekly team meetings using video chat to help them stay connected to their supervisors and connect with one another for support. Staff members are working from home and will continue to do so until the executive leadership team has approved returning to work in the office. At this time, a few staff members have been allowed to return to the office for short periods of time to complete tasks that cannot be completed from home, but this is with restricted numbers of staff in buildings at any one time and follows regional guidelines.”

“We have weekly supervision and team meetings via video conferencing so we are able to gauge our staff’s mental health and address any other concerns they may have about working from home or on the front line.”

How are you preparing for the coming surge in demand for services once social distancing rules start to relax?

“We’re employing new staff, but we will have considerably fewer international students in the coming year so we are unsure about how demand will actually pan out.”

“We are hiring and training more staff, but we’re still concerned about our ability to continue supporting clients if more outbreaks happen.”

“Our staff members have booked off time in their calendars to do intake and are available to see more clients as we receive inquiries.”

“We have hired more staff and are moving to a new clinic which will accommodate some of our more complex clients. We’re also looking into Add.Me to streamline the intake process for new clients.”

Do you have any success stories you can share with us?

“The value of our services has definitely been appreciated within our sector since the start of the pandemic. We have been able to do significantly more networking and have linked in with others for reciprocal outcomes.”

“Many of our clients have benefitted from having appointments in their homes instead of in the clinic like they did prior to COVID-19. We’ve heard from our therapists that our younger clients are engaging much more in their home environment and are now making massive progress!”

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