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ICHA to deliver unique model of care during COVID for people experiencing homelessness in Toronto

March 31, 2020 – News

March 31, 2020, Toronto — Inner City Health Associates (ICHA) has assembled a diverse team to address COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Toronto’s homeless population, drawing on provincial and multi-partner support.

ICHA’s plan to identify, protect, care for and support people experiencing homelessness who are COVID-19 positive is being funded by the Ontario government. It is a carefully designed model of preventive and clinical nursing, peer and medical care. Clinical and emergency response professionals and people who have experienced homelessness will channel their expertise towards a common goal under an inter-connected effort, collectively known as Safe Spaces & Care for the Homeless (SCH).

ICHA is working with partners from government, the city’s shelter system, community organizations and health system organizations to deliver targeted services within a safe environment that meets the highest possible health protection standards. Each partner has its own responsibilities. In addition to the model of care, ICHA is deploying physician services, nursing services (RN, RPN, Managers and a Director), peer support workers and case manages.

The clinical population health model is based upon emergency management principles and includes three essential, evidence-based components.

  • Preventive Isolation Facility: A rapid roll-out of interprofessional nurse-led care teams with physician supports at a 200-room isolation facility to help people experiencing homeless who are awaiting COVID-19 test results over one to two days. This measure prevents the spread of potential COVID cases within the shelter system.
  • COVID Positive Isolation Facility: A distinct COVID+ isolation facility for up to 400 people experiencing homelessness for up to 14 days to provide care, including mental health and harm-reduction services.
  • A risk-guided social distancing and support intervention which will identify members of the homeless population based on their personal care and health protection needs. Information will inform care supports and rehousing strategies for the most vulnerable.

The values underpinning the Safe Spaces & Care for the Homeless (SCH) project include:

  • Safety for those receiving and providing care and services; public protection against the risk of increased spread.
  • Inclusion, equity and sensitivity – a commitment to reaching as many people experiencing homelessness as possible to provide health protection and dignified care with particular concern for those at greatest risk.
  • Compassion and empathy – a commitment to provide care that is consistently dignified, deeply human, and truly personal.
  • Effective and Efficient models of care to deliver the kind and quality of care that people who are experiencing homelessness deserve and that our resource-constrained health system requires and can deliver.
  • Collaboration and partnership with a wide array of contributors in governments, the city’s shelter system, community organizations and health system organizations.
  • Transparency and accountability — open, honest and direct communication about our operations and stewardship of resources.

ICHA says it is important to note that people experiencing homelessness are more than two-to-four times more likely to require critical care than the general population and are two-to-three times as likely to die as the general population.


For more information, please contact: Sine MacKinnon, Director of Communications, Inner City Health Associates, 647.201.7369,  or Matt Kellway, Director of Public Affairs, Inner City Health Associates,  647.987.5917.