Always Open to Learning – GVCSS

January 27, 2020 | News

For those living in BC’s Lower Mainland, the winter season can often feel like an extension of autumn. Cold, rainy days are to be expected – large snowstorms are not.

While the region may not experience snowstorms very often, when they do occur, the impact can be challenging. It was from feeling this impact that Greater Vancouver Community Services Society (GVCSS) felt inspired to take a proactive approach to winter safety.

A few winters ago, GVCSS felt unprepared. One particularly bad snowstorm resulted in a high number of staff injuries, leaving many clients without service. “That storm was a learning experience for us,” says Maria Moeller, the Society’s director of Home Care.

And learn from that experience they did. Immediately after the storm, changes to the organization’s winter procedures started to take place.

To prevent slips on ice and snow—the main source of injuries during the wintery conditions—low-cost cleats are now made available to new employees, and safety while travelling between clients’ homes in challenging weather conditions is typically part of their training.

This initiative came directly from hearing staff feedback. As Moeller says, “communication is key.”

That mantra extends throughout the organization’s approach to winter safety. Not only are office and supervisor staff given the resources to work from home on snowy days, but clients are also kept in constant communication—which helps determine if they require service that day.

Schedules are adjusted to allow staff extra time to get from client to client. Travel time is made even safer with “Neighbourhood Scheduling”, a plan that assigns workers to clients in a nearby radius.

The results of GVCSS’s initiatives speak for themselves. Despite January’s heavy snowfall, most clients still received service and only seven minor slips were reported, with no major injuries.  This marks a stark contrast to previous years.

Still, there is more that can be done, Moeller says. From working with the city to implementing staff feedback, GVCSS is always willing to listen and learn.


Ensuring their clients are taken care of in the winter conditions demonstrates the dedication and compassion of GVCSS’s workers. GVCSS’s leadership team is incredibly proud of the hard work the staff has done.