AKIM in times of Covid-19 Pandemic
As it is in most of the world, the State of Israel is struggling with the Coronavirus pandemic. The Israeli government and health authorities are issuing daily instructions to the population to contain the spread of the virus among the people. Luckily, maybe due to the measures took by the Israeli government, our death rate and illness rate are relatively low, and the government is starting to slowly (very slowly in my opinion) to relief the population and the stay at home order.
The Israeli authorities recognize AKIM Israel as an Essential Entity that MUST continue to work in an emergency, operating community housing, and will, therefore, continue to operate in any situation.
AKIM has about 930 employees. Even being an Essential Entity, government regulation is forcing us to reduce our staff by 50%, sending any non-essential workers to be on sick leave, regular leave, and unpaid leave. In contrast, we need to recruit more supporters to operate in a 24/7 mode our 62 community living apartments and houses and be prepared if a breakdown of the pandemic will spread in one of these houses. Moreover, to reduce the opportunity of contagions, we are not allowing our supporters to work in more than one service or community house, a decision with a lot of economic implications on our staff members and us.
The people AKIM represent, are in many cases, categorized as a population at risk, some of them because of their advanced age (above 60-year-old), others because they have background diseases that put them at very high risk if exposed to the virus.
To protect them, while following the health services instructions, we are implementing some emergency means. Either living in their homes or housing, they aren’t going to go to work, nor learn, visit their family members, or doing other leisure activities. Now they are closed indoors 24/7, and for some of them, this situation is particularly challenging.
It’s a demanding situation for the families as well. The families need to support their loved ones with IDD on a 24/7 basis without the ability to give them the routine life they are used to.
This situation we face is demanding us to create a remote and digital recreational activity for our housing, as for those who are in their homes. At AKIM, we set up a special task force to allocate operators and guides that we would hire to create a remote-based activity like sport, art, etc. This recreational program is already working.
Another challenge we are facing in these difficult days is a growing number of calls to our Parents for Parents hotline. We are seeing more requests and more of them requiring the help of professional staff like psychologists, paramedical staff, and behavioral specialists. To assist the families, we are hiring professionals.