This information is intended for a range of congregate living settings such as homeless shelters, group homes, supportive housing and other congregate living settings. As facility operators and leaders providing much-needed services, there are steps that you can take to protect the people that rely on their services and the staff and volunteers working there. This information will help your organization assess your needs and implement strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and manage cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 in your facility.
Infection Prevention and Control Measures
In addition to general infection prevention and control measures that should be followed, below are additional ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Promote Safer Drug Use
- Talk with harm reduction partners about the continuity of harm reduction supplies and addiction services for your clients.
- Encourage clients not to share items that come into contact with the mouth or nose (e.g. drug use equipment, cigarettes).
- Share information on safer drug use during the COVID-19 outbreak (PDF).
- Plan and prepare for involuntary withdrawal or overdose if it occurs in your setting.
- Reduce harms associated with ongoing problematic substance use. For national guidance see Supporting people who use substances in shelter settings during the COVID-19 pandemic (Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse).
- See the COVID-19: People Who Use Substances page for more information and printable resources.
Manage and Isolate Symptomatic Individuals
Anyone with severe symptoms should be immediately transported to the hospital via EMS.
Plan for Early Detection and Management of an Outbreak
- Work with your local public health unit to put an outbreak management plan in place for detecting and managing a potential COVID-19 outbreak in your facility.
- An outbreak within a congregate living setting is defined as one laboratory-confirmed case in a resident or staff. Outbreaks are declared by the local medical officer of health, or their designate.
- Once an outbreak has been declared, the local public health unit will provide direction to help manage the outbreak.
For more information or advice, contact:
- Abby Mackie, Public Health Inspector: (807) 625-5933 / Abby.Mackie@tbbdu.com
- Jocelyn Pearson, Public Health Inspector: (807) 625-5934 / Jocelyn.Pearson@tbdhu.com
Guidance Documents for Congregate Living Settings
- COVID-19 Guidance: Congregate Living for Vulnerable Populations (May 28, 2020) - Government of Ontario, Ministry of Health
- COVID-19 Preparedness and Prevention in Congregate Living Settings (July 8, 2020) - Public Health Ontario
- COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Congregate Living Settings (August 25, 2020) - Public Health Ontario
- Congregate Living Setting Resource Toolkit (July 20, 2020) - Public Health Ontario
- COVID-19 IPAC Fundamentals Training (September 2, 2020) - Course, Public Health Ontario
- How to Cohort During an Outbreak of COVID-19 in a Congregate Living Setting (June 19, 2020) - Public Health Ontario
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Non-Medical Masks in Congregate Living Settings (July 7, 2020) - Public Health Ontario
- Cohorting During a COVID-19 Outbreak in a Congregate Living Setting (July 31, 2020) - Webinar, Public Health Ontario
- Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks in Congregate Living Settings (June 22, 2020) - Public Health Ontario
- Resuming Visits in Congregate Living Settings (June 2020) - Government of Ontario, Ministry of Children Community and Social Services
- Supporting People who use Substances in Shelter Settings During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Canadian Research Initiative on Substance Misuse