Residential Practice in COVID


The advent of COVID-19 has forced many agencies to review their capacity for remote administrative and service provision functions. The following outline recommends procedures for assessing and meeting such capacity.

Assess Remote Work Options

  • Assess staff to identify which teams can work remotely vs. who must work “onsite,” based upon job description.
  • Develop instrument(s) for supervisors and directors to assess remote workability.
  • Partner with HR to disseminate instrument(s) and collect/analyze data.
  • Evaluate equipment needs and gaps for remote workers.
  • Develop and implement a simple survey to identify hardware (e.g. tablets, phones), network issues (e.g. Wi-Fi access), and software gaps.
  • The survey should ask staff to identify what technology hardware, software, and accessibility they had and what they needed in order to work remotely and/or implement “social distancing” guidelines on site.

Identify and Address Hardware Concerns

  • For staff missing agency phones and tablets, source inventory and place orders immediately.
  • Until new tablets arrive, implement Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP) for all staff missing agency tablets, but who have a home computer and reliable Wi-Fi so that remote work can commence.
  • Until new phones arrive, implement an app such as “talkatone” or “Google voice” so that staff can use their personal phones in a secure manner. These apps permit staff to use their own phone to text/call clients but provide a masked phone number.
  • To support social distancing for onsite workers, determine what work can be done remotely given appropriate tools and technology. Move as much of their work as possible to online/remote tools using the above steps.

Tech Support for Clients

  • Develop a simple survey to identify tech needs (hardware, software, and Wi-Fi) for kids in cottages and clients in our communities.
  • Telehealth – see Behavioral Health section
  • E-learning – see E-Learning and Recreation section
  • Source inventory and identify needs for cottages and place orders immediately.
  • Assess opportunities for free or low-cost hardware, software, and Wi-Fi capacity available to communities.
  • Free Wi-Fi access
  • DOE – opportunities for free hardware
  • Free or low-cost external platforms for telehealth and e-learning
  • Generate email/phone number for clients to access tech support
  • Expand the capacity of broadband to meet increased remote activity:
    • Expand VPN broadband strength/utility to ensure it can support a larger number of subscribers.
    • Add new subscribers to this tool, particularly remote staff who need access to apps and files on onsite servers
  • Increase tech support to manage the shift to on-line/remote activity:
    • Hire short-term contractors to assist us with the setup and rollout of new technology to remote staff as well as with the subsequent increase in support requests.
    • Create new help desk ticket categories to track requests.
    • Create a live dashboard to allow the IT department to manage the ongoing work of the team across a variety of areas of support (e.g. support tickets, special requests, telehealth tech needs)
    • Create a centralized repository of information (perhaps on an intranet page or SharePoint) to share tech updates, protocols, and guidelines for staff to easily access.

Office Phones/Phone Lines

  • Develop and disseminate instructions on how to forward landline calls, change outgoing voicemail messages remotely, and access landline voicemail remotely.

Broadcast Communications

  • Set up outgoing lines for large broadcast messages; to share simple messages about program activities such as “The agency is closed today” or “Please visit our website for latest COVID-19 information.
    • One for internal communications with staff.
    • One for clients.
  • Set up broadband texting capability for cell phones

Telephone and Video Conference Tools

  • Assess and roll out a variety of tools for staff to use with internal and external stakeholders both on the phone and via tablet.
  • Internal Platforms
    • Microsoft Teams Video/Telephone Conferencing – and training guides
    • Zoom video conferencing
    • Paid Conference lines for select staff (better quality and reliability than free conference calls).

External Platforms

    • FaceTime (iPhone only)
    • WhatsApp Messenger (free Wi-Fi calling and messaging)
    • Skype for Business iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac OS
    • Zoom video conferencing
  • FOR PRESCRIBED TELEHEALTH PROVIDERS ONLY [See section on Behavioral Health]
    • Review BH Telehealth Vendor Analysis attached
    • Zoom for Healthcare Apple, Android, Windows, Mac OS

Scan, Sign, Fax, and Printing Capabilities:

  • Address immediate needs to manage documents electronically.
  • Install Adobe Acrobat Reader or provide staff with instructions for installing Adobe Acrobat Reader on all agency devices.
  • Ensure that staff have remote scanning, signature, faxing, and printing capabilities.