Stopping the COVID-19 spread to support youth in Nova Scotia

At the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in Nova Scotia, hundreds of free rapid antigen test kits arrived at Homebridge Youth Society, enabling the youth residential care provider to implement twice-weekly testing that helped keep the home in operation through the worst of the pandemic.

 
Two women in masks holding up rapid tests outside in front of a building with a sign saying HomeBridge Youth Society
Renee Stevens (left) and Caroline Moore from Homebridge Youth Society.
“Having those tests, delivered straight to us was phenomenal,” explains Caroline Moore, director of youth care services at Homebridge, which receives rapid tests and masks through the Stop the Spread and Stay Safe! program, provided by the Canadian Red Cross with the support of Health Canada.
 
Homebridge Youth Society provides residential care for 40 youth between ages 12 and 18 at six facilities in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It also runs an accredited school and provides both arts and recreation-based therapeutic life skills program.
 
“We work to help young people heal from their past trauma, build healthy relationships, and develop the skills and awareness to be their best self,” says Renee Stevens, communications and development manager.
 
While the workplace testing stream of the Stop the Spread program has ended, non-profit and charitable organizations can still obtain tests and masks for distribution to their existing clients for self use. Applications are being accepted until November 18, 2022, at www.redcross.ca/stopthespread.
 
To be eligible, organizations:
  • Must have clients they regularly serve OR have partner organizations that have clients who are regularly served
  • Must be willing to distribute rapid antigen tests, masks, and necessary information handouts to their clients
  • Must report every two weeks on how many rapid antigen tests have been distributed
 For Homebridge, the workplace stream of the program enabled the establishment of a bi-weekly screening program for all staff and for the youth in care. So far, this testing has helped to ward off an outbreak at the Homebridge facilities by identifying some individuals who were asymptomatic but tested positive.
 
Both Caroline and Renee are thankful for the extension of the self-use stream of the program which will enable them to continue to distribute rapid tests and masks to their clients. There was great support in completing the application form and once that was done, “it was literally just a matter of sitting back and within a week we had 1000-something test show up at our door,” Caroline says.
 
They credit the program with helping to ensure the safety of staff and the youth they serve.
 

“Shutting down or sending our staff home is not an option (due to COVID). We have to stay open. We are very much among the frontline workers who had to stay in it all the time.”

For more information on the Stop the Spread and Stay Safe program, visit redcross.ca/stopthespread.

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