Toolkit – How to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Shelters and Supportive Housing

This toolkit is intended to support service providers in shelters or supportive housing respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Click here for a printable version.

This toolkit is prepared by the COVID-19 Community Medical Team of Kitchener Waterloo and is aligned with the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Guidance: Homeless Shelters.

As new information is released, this document will be updated to include the most up to date information and best practices.


How to PREVENT the spread of COVID-19 in Shelters and Supportive Housing

   All the following steps are important and effective measures for staff and residents in shelters and supportive housing and must be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community:

    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • Wear gloves when screening; cleaning; or helping an unwell person Both gloves and hands spread contamination from one surface to the next
    • Gloves should never be washed with soap and water nor hand sanitizer
    • Bare hands that are washed frequently are safer than gloves (keep your gloves for tasks of screening; cleaning and caring for an unwell person – discard gloves after tasks)
    • Avoiding touching your face with hands or gloves
    • Shelter and Housing staff must wear a mask* in all rooms with residents
    • Restrict number of staff in staff only areas to ensure you are able to maintain 2 metres (6 feet) between staff. Masks* do not need to be worn in staff areas where you are able to distance
    • COVID-19 Community Medical Team will make a recommendation on how best to conserve masks* at your facility. Goal is to use 1 mask* per shift
    • Wear gown – when within 2 metres (6 feet) of an unwell person
    • Wear a face shield – when there is the risk being splashed (such as when cleaning, or close to coughing person)
    • Keep a distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) between people, including staff, regardless if they are well or unwell
    • When people aren’t wearing a mask*, coughing or sneezing into a bend elbow or tissue following by hand washing or hand sanitize
    • Screen all shelter residents and staff daily

*surgical masks  

The COVID-19 Community Medical Team recommends


  • Review the above prevention steps with your team at the beginning of each shift
  • Speak to your community and residents about the prevention steps
  • Use posters below to remind staff and community of prevention steps throughout the day
  • Have frequent staff training; share the videos; and talk about how you make prevention steps work in your workplace
  • Have a member of the COVID Community Medical Team come to your workplace to talk about these prevention steps and how you can make these steps work in your workplace.

Each facility may have a different way to apply the PPE guidelines


Tools to Support Your Staff and Your Community/Residents

Posters for Community/Residents in Shelters in Supportive Housing to Prevent Infection:

General Poster

Wash your hands

Cough and sneeze into your sleeve

Physical distancing

Don’t touch your face

Cover your cough

Posters for Staff in Shelters and Supportive Housing to Prevent Infection:

Shelter Guidance for Staff

How to Wear a Mask

Handwashing and Hand Rub with Sanitizer

Putting on (Donning) PPE including Gloves, Gowns and Masks

Taking off Gloves, Gown and Face Mask


Putting on Gloves

Putting on a Gown and Gloves

 How to Wear a Mask

Assessment Tools


Self Assessment Tool for Staff Concerned about their Symptoms