Congregate living settings (COVID-19)
Resources have been prepared to support congregate living settings with COVID-19. Congregate living settings include shelters, group homes, or other types of supportive housing. Individuals living and working in congregate living settings require special considerations in preventing and dealing with COVID-19. All efforts should be taken to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission in these settings. For information on limiting the risk of COVID-19 in long-term care or retirement homes see Guidance for Health Care Providers.
To protect those in vulnerable settings the Government of Ontario has issued a directive mandating that high-risk settings introduce COVID-19 vaccination policies no later than September 7, 2021. For details, visit Ontario.ca
The following will help limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission in congregate living settings for vulnerable populations:
A number of documents, screening checklists, and websites are available to help guide individuals who are managing, supporting, and working in congregate living settings.
- The Ontario Ministry of Health has released a guidance document, COVID-19 Guidance Congregate Living for Vulnerable Populations (Ministry of Health). This document is intended to assist with minimizing COVID-19 transmissions from individuals working or living in congregate settings and to help prevent, detect, and manage individual cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 within these settings.
- On June 11, 2020, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services released a supplementary guidance document, Resuming Visits in Congregate Living Settings (Ministry of Health). This document provides more information about non-essential visits in outdoor spaces. Learn more about the requirements in the Resuming Visits in Congregate Living Settings document (Ministry of Health).
- On July 22, 2020, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services released the Visitor’s Guidelines: Re-Opening of Congregate Living Settings (Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services) document. This document is being issued to revise the existing outdoor visitor policy and to support the resumption of personal/indoor visits in congregate living settings funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. Learn more about all of the requirements in the Visitor’s Guidelines: Re-Opening of Congregate Living Settings (Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services).
- Public Health Ontario has released resources to support congregate living settings.
- The COVID-19 Preparedness and Prevention in Congregate Living Settings Checklist (Public Health Ontario) is a resource to be used by administrators and staff members in congregate living settings to help plan for, prevent, and detect COVID-19 within these settings.
- The Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks in Congregate Living Settings Checklist (Public Health Ontario) is a resource to be used when there is an outbreak or possible outbreak in a congregate living setting. Public Health assesses each unique situation in determining if an outbreak should be declared, including, for example, occupation, exposures in the home, symptoms of the case, specific risk factors, and local epidemiology. This checklist can be used by the local public health unit staff member and the administrator and staff of the congregate living setting to work together to manage the outbreak.
- The Foundations of COVID-19 Prevention and Control for Congregate Living Settings (Public Health Ontario) is a webinar that provides an overview of how to prevent COVID-19 spread in congregate living settings.
Government of Ontario: Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care
The Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care provide resources to support a variety of settings with managing and reducing the risks of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Guidance for the Health Sector (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care) has guidance documents, signage, and more.
Sign up for the Ministry of Health’s Workforce Matching Portal (Ministry of Health) which provides access to a staff pool in the event staffing needs are not being met or there is a critical need for staffing support.
This process is free to register and will only provide staff if a request is made. Registering should be completed whether or not there is a present need.
Prevention of disease transmission
There are many things that congregate living settings can do to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-Key strategies include wash your hands, cover your cough or sneeze with your arm or a tissue, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, follow all the steps of physical distancing, wear your face covering, and stay home when ill.
Cleaning and disinfecting
Cleaning and disinfecting objects and high-touch surfaces will help to prevent the transmission of viruses from contaminated objects and surfaces to people. Learn more about COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection for public health settings (Public Health Ontario).
- List of disinfectants with evidence for use against COVID-19 (Government of Canada) (List of approved disinfectants/cleaners, you can use search function to look up name and/or DIN number)
- List of hand sanitizers authorized by Health Canada (Government of Canada) (List of approved hand sanitizers, you can use search function to look up name and/or DIN number)
Requirements for visitors (including screening and face covering)
All congregate living settings should undertake passive (using signage) and active (screening questions administered by staff) screening for residents, staff, and essential and non-essential visitors.
Non-essential visitors must wear a non-medical mask and essentials visitors must wear a surgical/procedure mask at all times during indoor or outdoor visits. Non-essential and essential visitors must also maintain proper respiratory etiquette and hand washing must be performed for visitors and residents before and after the visits. The congregate living settings needs to facilitate visits in a manner aligned with physical distancing protocols. Outdoor visits are preferred whenever possible as this reduces the risk of infection due to continuous exterior airflow.
Signage (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care) should be posted on the entry door and throughout the residence to prompt anyone to self-identify if they feel unwell or screen positive for symptoms of COVID-19.
All individuals should be actively screened prior to entry. A formal process should be established to ensure rigorous screening activities. Settings may wish to adapt the Ministry of Health’s screening tool (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care).
All of the requirements for indoor and outdoor visits are explained in the Visitor’s Guidelines: Re-Opening of Congregate Living Settings document (Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services).
Additional symptoms, screening, and testing Resources
- Provincial Testing Guidance Update (Ministry of Health)
- COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms (Ministry of Health)
- COVID-19 Patient Screening Document (Ministry of Health) This document is updated regularly with screening questions and list of symptoms.
Ontario Health has established the Regional Supply Chain Table to support the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and critical supplies across the Province. It is recommended that all homes always have a 14-day supply of PPE on hand.
Facilities can access the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Burn Rate Calculator (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to calculate the average PPE consumption rate or “burn rate”. The website will help estimate how many days a PPE supply will last given current inventory levels and PPE burn rate.
Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce created resources for a safe recovery (Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce) which includes a list of local suppliers, supplies, and equipment.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts
If you have questions related to COVID-19, call our COVID-19 call centre or use our online form to submit your information and Public Health staff will call you back within one business day, unless extenuating circumstances. You can also read our frequently asked questions for more information on COVID-19.
COVID-19 Assessment Centre Information
This item was last modified on August 18, 2021