Julie Casey MSW, RSW

Wellness Care Farm

Nourishing Hearts

Nourishing Hearts Wellness Care Farm’s 
COVID-19 Safety & Infection Control Plan and Consent to In-Person Sessions

On May 14th the government announced: 
Ontario's first stage of reopening will begin on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, and will include: Certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counseling.

On May 15th  OCSWSSW announced it:
Continues to strongly advise members to suspend all non-essential social work and social service work services, in compliance with the current provincial emergency orders.

The College cannot decide on behalf of individual members which of their services are essential and/or when it is safe and appropriate for them to resume in-person services. Members must make their own determination, based on:

  • their employment setting;
  • the sector and/or clients that they serve;
  • consultation with their employer and a review of relevant workplace policies; and
  • careful consideration of how safety and infection control measures apply to their practice and setting.

While some workplaces may re-open and some in-person services may resume as early as May 19, 2020, members must use their professional judgment to determine whether it is appropriate for them to do so at this time. Resuming in-person services may be permitted, but it is not required. Members are advised to use their professional judgment and to continue – wherever reasonably possible – to provide services by electronic means.

Nourishing Hearts Decision
With careful consideration of the outdoor farm setting, the mental health needs, and the safety and infection control measure that can be put into practice, I have made the decision to re-open in-person sessions starting on Monday, June 1st.  Clients will have the option to receive in-person sessions at the farm or to continue with tele-services (video). It is my professional judgment that the benefits of in-person sessions outway the current risks, especially with mandatory safety and infection control measures in place at the farm.

The benefits of in-person sessions include:

  • Re-connection to the farm, animals, nature and myself
  • Strength and resilience building
  • Emotional support and problem-solving skill development during a complex time
  • Exposure to the therapeutic and stress-reducing effects of animals and nature
  • Physical activity and positive health effects both physically and mentally
  • Disconnect from screens, technology, and video games 
  • Break for both children and parents from the confinement of the home

The following mandatory safety and  infection control measures will be in place at the farm:

  • The client and I must wear a face mask during the session. Clients are responsible to provide their own mask.
  • The client will have their temperature taken at the gate. If the temperature is above 37.8 C, the session will be canceled.
  • The client will wash hands with soap and water at the gate.
  • Physical distancing will be maintained whenever possible.
  • Direct physical contact (petting) with the animals will be limited. Clients must use a hand sanitizer before making contact with the animal since fur/feathers cannot be disinfected.
  • All or the majority of the session will occur outdoors. Time in the barn and clubhouse will be limited.
  • The handling of tools and toys will be limited and disinfected between sessions.
  • No food or drinks will be served.   
  • The port-a-john, barn, and Clubhouse will be disinfected after each use. 
  • Parents and drivers will need to wait in their cars, except for back to back sibling sessions in which case, the Lavender Lounge trailer will be available. Parents/drivers will need to bring their own activities for use in the trailer. The trailer will be disinfected after use.

COVID-19 Consent to In-Person Sessions
The COVID -19 consent form will need to be signed prior to the arrival to the farm. To be eligible for the in-person sessions the client (child/adult), must complete the COVID-19 Screening Assessment before EACH in-person session, the day of the appointment.  If the screener outcome is negative, the in-person session can occur. If the outcome is positive, the in-person session will be canceled and the session will be provided via tele-services.

COVID -19 Screening Assessment

  1. Do you, a family member or significant person you are in contact with, have any of the following new or worsening symptoms or signs? 

  • New or worsening cough  Yes  No 
  • Shortness of breath  Yes  No 
  • Sore throat  Yes  No 
  • Runny nose, sneezing or nasal congestion (in absence of underlying reasons for symptoms such as seasonal allergies and postnasal drip)  Yes  No 
  • Hoarse voice  Yes  No 
  • Difficulty swallowing  Yes  No 
  • New smell or taste disorder(s)  Yes  No 
  • Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain  Yes  No 
  • Unexplained fatigue/malaise  Yes  No 
  • Chills  Yes  No 
  • Headache  Yes  No 
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)  Yes  No
  • Joint pain, hands/feet swelling or rash on finger or toes  Yes  No

2. Have you, a family member or significant person you are in contact with, traveled outside of Canada or had close contact with anyone that has traveled outside of Canada in the past 14 days?  Yes  No 

3. Do you, a family member or significant person you are in contact with, have a fever (37.8C or above)?  Yes  No 

4. Have you, a family member or significant person you are in contact with, had close contact with anyone with respiratory illness or a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19?  Yes  No 

Screener Outcome
If responses to ALL screening questions is  No - Screen is Negative ⇨ Eligible for In-Person Session 
If responses to ANY screening question is Yes - Screen is Positive ⇨ Ineligible for In-Person Session

EXAMPLE: Consent to In-Person Counselling Sessions During COVID-19 Pandemic

Please initial the boxes:

⎹ I am aware of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services strongly advises members to suspend all non-essential social work and members are advised to use their professional judgment for in-person services and to continue – wherever reasonably possible – to provide services by electronic means.

⎹ Although the government recommended safety and infection control measures of physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), screening/self-screening, and regular cleaning and disinfection are implemented, I am aware of the risk of being exposed to, contracting and/or becoming a carrier of COVID-19.

⎹ I am aware that the tele-services are still available at any time and in-person sessions are by informed choice. 

COVID-19 Service Response to In-Person Sessions