COVID-19 GUIDANCE: Safe practices For Sober Living Homes in North County San Diego

Carlsbad quality Sober Living Home has safety standards for Covid-19

Sober Living Today provides a guidance document for basic information only. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

This guidance document is intended for group home or Sober Living group living setting, referred to as “residential settings”1. There is a Guidance for staying safe on the Red Cross website.

Also check the Ministry of Health (MOH) COVID-19 website regularly for updates to this document,

the latest case definition, FAQs, and other pertinent information. WE acknowledged shared accommodation and smaller communal areas may pose challenges for following the guidance outlined in this document. 

It is also recognized that much of the support and care that is provided in these residential settings cannot be deferred. Residential settings are encouraged to customize and prioritize as necessary.

Screening is required for everyone entering the residential setting, including residents who have left treatment or coming from a private residence. There are several things that residential settings can do to protect their residence, including implementing organizational pandemic and/or business continuity plans as appropriate. These should include plans to address situations when clients are unwell. 

When planning, residential settings should also consider this list:

  1.  How health care can be organized within the residential setting if residents become unwell with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or are exposed to COVID-19, including isolation within the home;
  2.  How to reach out to the local public health unit to assist with the planning;
  3.  Sick leave policies and how to access extra staff and volunteers to cover for absences of staff who cannot come to work because they are unwell or in selfisolation;
  4. How to actively screen staff, and volunteers for symptoms of COVID-19 every time they enter the residential setting;
  5. How to access specialist services that may be required (e.g., mental health services);
  6. How to access extra hand hygiene supplies (soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, paper towels) and cleaning products and perform enhanced cleaning;
  7. How to have food, medication and other supplies delivered and the quantities needed of each;
  8. How to access and use personal protective equipment (PPE), and what types are needed;
  9. How to transport unwell residents as public transportation cannot be used;
  10. Reviewing infection prevention and control/occupational health and safety policies and procedures with all staff and volunteers; and
  11. Communicating that anyone who feels unwell, especially those with fever, cough or other flu-like symptoms should stay home and report to the supervisor/manager for screening (details below).

Surgical/procedure masks should only be worn inside the residential setting if a person must have direct contact (less than 2 metres) with an unwell resident. Prevention There are many things residential settings can do to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 in the residential setting, particularly by facilitating proper hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and physical distancing as well as screening staff, volunteers, and new or returning residents.  Hand Hygiene Hand hygiene (see Hand Hygiene on PHO Public Resources) refers to hand washing or hand sanitizing and actions taken to maintain healthy hands and fingernails. It should be performed frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer for 15- 20 seconds: • Before and after preparing food; • Before and after eating; • Before going to sleep; • After using the toilet; • After disposing of waste or handling dirty laundry; • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; • After interacting with other people at a distance of less than 2 metres/6 feet; • After facilitating or engaging in group activities (where applicable - see section on Group Activities and Outings); and • Whenever hands look dirty or are visibly soiled.

Handwashing with plain soap and water is the preferred method of hand hygiene. If soap and water are not available, hands can be cleaned with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) that contains at least 70% alcohol, ensuring that all surfaces of the hands are covered (e.g., front and back of hands as well as between fingers and under the nails) and rub them together until they feel dry. For visibly soiled hands, remove soiling with a paper towel or hand wipe first, followed by use of ABHS.

When drying hands, disposable paper towels are preferred, but a cloth towel that is only used by one person may be used.

Avoid touching the face, eyes, nose, and mouth at all times, especially with unwashed hands.

Respiratory etiquette • Cover your cough and teach, remind or help residents to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or cough or sneeze into the bend of the arm, not the hand. • Residents and staff should dispose of any tissues that they used as soon as possible in a lined, non-touch waste basket and wash their hands afterwards. Physical Distancing Physical distancing limits the number of people that individuals come into close contact with. This means keeping a distance of at least 2 metres or 6 feet (approximately 2 arms-length) from other people in the residential setting and outside.  Unless providing essential personal care, people living in the residence should distance themselves from others. This may require educating residents and volunteers to be mindful of their proximity to others. Moving furniture and creating visual cues such as tape on the floor can be helpful. Day to Day Operations Meals, Group Activities and Outings There are several things that residential settings can do to protect their staff, volunteers and residents:  • Only allow one person or family to use the kitchen at a time and clean and disinfect after each use. • Suspend communal dining unless physical distancing is possible (e.g., eating at different times and cleaning all surfaces between seatings) or serving residents individual meals in their rooms if this is not feasible. • Remove shared food containers from dining areas (e.g., pitchers of water, salt & pepper shakers). Dispense snacks directly to residents or use pre-packaged food. • Encourage residents to remain in their room. If rooms are shared, residents should keep as far apart as possible from each other (e.g., “head to foot” or “foot to foot” placement of beds). • Cancel group activities and individual outings that require close contact between individuals unless they are essential. o Activities that maintain physical distancing of 2 metres or 6 feet between individuals may continue in the home. • Create a schedule for residents to use the common spaces in shifts, to maintain physical distancing. Reconfigure common spaces so seating ensures physical distancing. • Individuals should only leave the home for urgent appointments. • Arrange for delivery of medications and other supplies • People may make use of the yard and outdoor space immediately surrounding the residential setting if they can maintain physical distancing. Avoid Sharing Personal and Household Items • Residents should not share personal items with others (e.g., toothbrushes, towels, washcloths, bed linen, unwashed eating utensils, straws, cigarettes, drinks, drug paraphernalia, phones, computers, remote controls, toys, other electronic devices, etc.). • Where possible, personal items should be kept separately for each resident. Clean all items that must be used by several people between uses (e.g., remote control, toys, telephones) - see cleaning below.

Home Visits and Visitors • Home visits to family are only permitted if the resident stays with the family for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency and until they are instructed that they may return to the residential setting.  Home visits to family for a short time are not permitted. • If available, use telephone or video interactions for residents to maintain contact with family and friends. • For Youth Justice Facilities, all visitor and volunteer activities should be suspended until further notice.  Cleaning • Cleaning and disinfecting2  objects and high-touch surfaces will help to prevent the transmission of viruses from contaminated objects and surfaces to people (see Environmental Cleaning on PHO public resources). • Clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces twice a day or more with a regular cleaner and disinfectant. High-touch areas include toilets and sinks, door handles (including refrigerator), kitchen surfaces and small appliances (e.g., kettles, coffee makers), light switches, telephones, remote controls, toys. • Read and follow the product label for health and safety information about the products, substances or chemicals that may be hazardous. Only use disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number on the label (8-digit number given by Health Canada).  Wear gloves when handling cleaning products. • High-touch electronics such as mobile devices and phones, computers and other devices may be disinfected with 70% alcohol (e.g., alcohol prep wipes). • Place lined waste baskets in visible locations and empty them regularly.  Wipes only in sober living homes, we not recommend a bottle of rubbing alcohol.