This Version Posted: January 14, 2021
IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures.
It’s essential to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially to vulnerable clients. If you are a service provider working with vulnerable clients, you can access link/resources below to protect the health of staff, volunteers and clients.
- Access short Health Unit video modules on how to prepare your workplace/organization for COVID-19.
- Screen your staff, volunteers and clients for COVID-19 symptoms before they start work or enter the building. Use this Provincial COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces or this screening tool from the HKPR District Health Unit.
- Maintain a clean and safe environment
- Staff and volunteers MUST stay home when sick
- Post signs on wearing a mask/face covering, washing hands with soap and water, and covering sneezes/coughs.
- Practise physical distancing
- Increase surface cleaning/ disinfection especially on high-touch surfaces
- Clients/participants MUST NOT share items (e.g. drinking cups, utensils)
- Develop an organizational plan to protect your staff, volunteers and clients from getting COVID-19. Consider how to: provide isolation for those who require it, modify service delivery based on staff capacity, and reduce fears, barriers and stigma around COVID-19 by providing credible information.
- Prepare and plan for operations with reduced staff and fewer volunteers. Also consider services that may need to quickly decrease or ramp up depending on the situation.
- Contact 211 Community Support to find/search government and community-based services during COVID-19. Call or text 2-1-1 day or night to find support for all of life’s challenges. Live Chat also available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm.
For Homeless Shelters and Service Providers
- Ontario Ministry of Health – Guidance for COVID-19 Preparedness and Prevention in Congregate Settings
- Public Health Ontario – COVID-19 Preparedness and Prevention in Congregate Setting Checklist
For Food Banks/Food Program Providers
If you are feeling ill, stay at home and away from others.
Practise Physical Distancing:
- Change the layout of your centre so there is enough space for staff, volunteers and clients to maintain physical distance
- Remove client wait areas. Get people to wait outdoors (weather permitting). Use pylons or tape spaced 2 metres apart to guide clients on where to stand in line.
- Mark or assign work stations so that staff/volunteers can maintain a 2-metre distance apart.
- Limit the number of clients in the centre at one time.
- Stagger arrivals and departures to reduce client contact.
- Allow staff and volunteers to fill out any forms or paperwork on behalf of clients. (NOTE: Clients must be able to view and verbally verify the information documented is correct. Staff and volunteers cannot sign on behalf of a client.)
- Extend hours or open on additional days so clients can be spread out.
Practise Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
- Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often. Do this before and after receiving items and making packages for delivery.
- Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60-90% concentration) and tissues at all entrances and work stations.
- Remind staff, volunteers and clients to sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow or into a tissue. Used tissue must be thrown into the trash. Wash or sanitize hands after.
Wear Masks/Face Coverings
- Wear a mask or face covering. NOTE: Face coverings must be worn inside public spaces.
- Develop a policy and protocols for your organization on mask use.
- Educate staff and volunteers on proper use and disposal of masks.
Increasing Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Increase surface cleaning and disinfecting on high-touch surfaces (E.g. doorknobs, light switches, all phones, counters, handles on cabinets, fridges, utility or grocery carts, pens, computers stations, etc.)
- Use only disinfectants that have an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). The DIN means a product is approved by Health Canada for use in this country. Click here for a specific list of hard-surface disinfectants that are known to be effective against COVID-19. Chlorine bleach may also be used as a disinfectant.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use of products for cleaning or disinfecting. This includes ensuring disinfectants are left on surfaces/items for the proper length of time to be effective.
Food Distribution Considerations:
- Contact the client ahead of time to arrange a delivery/pickup time.
- Let staff and volunteers handle the food for clients. Pre-pack food boxes or bags based on clients’ wishes and pass out food at the door. Food boxes or bags may need to be smaller or lighter for easier delivery/carrying.
- If delivering packages for clients:
- Wash or sanitize hands before the delivery.
- Drop off the package at the client’s door without entering their home.
- If staff/volunteer must enter the home, put on a mask before entering. Avoid touching surfaces in the client’s home. Maintain 2m distance from other people in the home. Wash or sanitize hands when leaving the client’s home.
- Ontario’s Community Support Program to assist low-income seniors and people with disabilities during COVID-19.
Download and print resources below:
Fact Sheet: Take Care of Yourself and Each Other – Public Health Ontario