Toronto Public Health works with health care professionals to manage outbreaks, and apply effective public health strategies to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases.

The purpose of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) Control of Respiratory Infection Outbreaks in Long-Term Care Homes guide is to provide long-term care homes (LTCHs), acute care facilities (ACFs), retirement homes, chronic care and rehabilitation facilities with detailed information on measures to detect, report, manage, and further reduce morbidity and mortality associated with respiratory outbreaks.

MOHLTC: A Guide to the Control of Respiratory Infection Outbreaks in Long-Term Care Homes (PDF)

Outbreaks of illness in long-term care homes or other healthcare facilities can be very stressful for residents/patients, staff, visitors and family members. However for residents/patients, outbreaks can be more than just stressful, they can be life-threatening. For the health and well-being of residents/patients it is important to control and stop outbreaks as quickly as possible. Follow these steps to help stop the spread of illness:

Check-in at the nursing station

  • Control measures may change several times during an outbreak. Staff at the nursing station will provide you with information on control measures that are being used at that time, and help answer your questions.

Keep your hands clean

Wash hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub:

  • Immediately when you enter the facility and as you leave.
  • Before entering a resident’s/patient’s room and as you leave a resident’s/patient’s room.
  • Before and after feeding a resident/patient or providing care to a resident/patient.
  • Before eating.
  • After using the washroom.

Do not visit if you are ill

Visiting a resident/patient when you are not feeling well puts everyone in the facility at risk. Keep infants and children at home if they are not feeling well. Do not visit if you have a cold or any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose, sore throat.
  • Diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting, or nausea.

If a resident/patient is ill, visit in the resident’s/patient’s room only

  • Ill residents/patients should remain in their rooms. Avoid taking an ill resident/patient to a common area during your visit.
  • If visiting a well resident/patient, follow the facility’s infection prevention and control instructions.

Do not visit more than one resident/patient

  • After visiting a resident/patient, leave the facility immediately.
  • To protect yourself, avoid common areas (e.g., dining room).

Get your flu shot (influenza vaccine)

  • Influenza can cause serious complications such as pneumonia or death for the elderly.
  • You can pass influenza to others before you start to show any symptoms. To protect yourself and your family, get your flu shot.

Follow the facility’s infection prevention and control instructions

Toronto Public Health consults with facilities to discuss ways to control and prevent outbreaks.

  • Follow the facility’s instructions for precautions or personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, masks, eye protection or gowns), if required.
  • If followed by everyone, control measures can control an outbreak.

For more information contact Toronto Health Connection: 416-338-7600, TTY: 416-392-0658.