Caregiver E-courses

Brain Injury Canada has developed a variety of courses for family caregivers of people with brain injury. Our courses are designed to be accessible, focused on topics that caregivers have told us are important to them. These courses are free of charge and self-guided, meaning you can learn on your own time. Check out our current courses below.

Family Caregivers: Introduction to Brain Injury

Brain injury (also called acquired brain injury, or ABI) is a unique and complex condition. This means that for family caregivers, it’s a lot of learning as you go – there’s no set guidelines for how to care for someone with a brain injury.

While we don’t know the specifics of your caregiving role, we can give you an introduction to brain injury to help answer some of your questions and give you practical tips/tools for supporting your loved one and yourself.

Topics in this course include types of brain injury, effects your loved one may experience, and the journey from diagnosis to rehabilitation. We’ve also included lots of links to helpful resources in case you want to learn more about something specific.

This course has text-based lessons, images, and videos from people with lived experience and health care professionals. It’s available for free and will save your progress as you go, so you can learn where you want, when you want. All our content is evidence-based and peer-reviewed.

Each brain injury is different – but understanding what it is and how it impacts people can help you as a family caregiver support your loved one.



This course is made possible and supported by the Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation, an organization that supports programs, tools, and resources from charitable organizations that serve family caregivers.

Finding reliable information about COVID-19 & vaccines

Most of the information we get these days is from the Internet. While this makes information more accessible, it can also make it a lot harder to figure out what is true and what’s not. This is especially true in situations like COVID-19 and vaccinations.

You can use the following tips to figure out how to access reliable and safe information, and avoid spreading misinformation.

Look for citations & sources

Any article or post about COVID-19 and/or vaccinations should have sources for where they are getting their medical information. This way you can see where the information is coming from.

While sources and citations (notes explaining where information came from) are helpful, it’s also important to make sure those sources have a good reputation and are from a safe, factual source.

Check the URL

The URL is the same thing as a web address. For example, our URL/web address is It also has a little lock next to it. This little lock means that it is safe and secure for you to visit the website.

Website addresses are normally the names of organizations, businesses, or publications, and have text in them that explain what you will find on the page. For example, is a page on traumatic brain injury. We include citations telling you where our information is coming from and how you can see that information yourself.

When looking at websites for information, you can look at the web address to learn more about whether the source is a trust-worthy one. The way websites end can also tell you a lot about them [1]:

  • .ca is a Canadian website
  • .com is one of the most common endings for website addresses
  • .org is mostly used by non-profits
  • .edu is sometimes used by universities and colleges
  • .gov is sometimes used by governments

Have a couple sources bookmarked that you can always rely on

Websites like ours are meant to be a reliable source of information that people can come back to again and again to find information and to check their facts. While you may learn information from a wide variety of places, having a couple online sources that you have 100% confidence in makes it easier for you to check facts and to find information you can trust.

For COVID-19 and vaccine information, a few websites you can start with include:

You can also use your province/territory’s health authority website for the most up-to-date information.

Using as an example

You find our page about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines when searching for information about vaccines.

Your first look at the URL: The URL is clear and matches the information that is on the page – it’s about COVID-19 and the vaccine. The URL also has that little lock we mentioned earlier, meaning it’s safe for you to use this website.

On our website, we make it clear that we source our information. As you read the content, you also see that we use citations to mark a place where we are using a source. On our website, citations look like this: [1], [2], etc.

At the bottom of the page, there is a link that says ‘See Sources’. This means you can see every source we use. When you look at the sources for this page, they are from the Government of Canada and the Mayo Clinic, which is a non-profit medical group that is well-known for its reliable reputation.

Based on this information, you can be confident that this information is trustworthy.

If you find information on social media, double check it

A lot of us find our news and information on social media these days. This can include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Threads
  • LinkedIn
  • TikTok

These are just a few examples of social media platforms. You may see posts, pictures, or videos sharing information. But if you can’t figure out where the post or the information is coming from, that information may not be right (also called misinformation). And unfortunately, it’s easy for misinformation to spread on social media because it’s so easy to share it. This can be really dangerous, particularly when the information is related to health.

During the pandemic, 90% of Canadians used online sources for information about COVID-19 [2]. 96% of those Canadians suspected they were seeing misinformation (false, inaccurate, and/or misleading) [2]. Yet online 20% regularly checked their sources, and most people used or shared the information without knowing if it was right [2].

Social media can be helpful in finding information – but it’s important to use the steps above to make sure the information is reliable. You can also ask yourself the following questions when you see information on social media [3] [4]:

  • Where is this information coming from?
  • Is it trying to get me to click on a link?
  • Is it making statements or claims that seem too good to be true?
  • Can I find a reputable source that I trust that matches this information?
  • Have I read the whole article or post, or did I just read the title/picture?
  • Are there spelling errors in the information? This can mean the information is incorrect

Social media posts in particular can cause you to have a strong emotional response, which may make you more likely to trust the information. But it’s important to check that information, even if it looks right.

You can follow the profiles of organizations and/or sources you trust, which may make it easier for you to find reliable information on your social media.

How can I tell if health information is good or bad? – heretohelp BC has a lot of helpful information on ways to look at health information online


[1] Michigan State University, “Finding accurate information on the Internet“, 2013
[2] Statistics Canada, “Misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic“, 2021
[3] Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, “How to identify misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation“, 2022
[4] Ottawa Public Health, “Scams and Misinformation“, 2023

What are the long-term impacts of COVID-19?

You may have seen or heard the term long COVID online or from others. Long COVID is the name given to a condition where people experience symptoms of COVID-19 or lasting effects weeks and months after their initial illness. The Government of Canada also calls this post COVID-19 condition [1]. People may be at risk of long COVID if they have had the COVID-19 virus.

The effects of long COVID

There are a lot of different symptoms for long COVID, but the most common ones include [1]:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sleep issues
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bodily pain in muscles and joints
  • Cognitive challenges like trouble concentrating or difficulty thinking/remembering
  • Mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression

As we mentioned, there have been lots of other symptoms noted, but this depends on each person.

What does this mean for me?

While there is no sure way to diagnose long COVID, if you are experiencing symptoms a long time after your initial illness, you should talk to your doctor.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any information that is specific to long COVID and existing brain injuries. Based on the symptoms listed above, long COVID may impact the effects of brain injury a person is experiencing – but we just don’t have that research yet. There are some research studies in progress related to long COVID and brain injury [2], but it will most likely be a few years before we have concrete study results.

As more information becomes available, we’ll make sure to share it.

Right now, you can learn more about long COVID from the Government of Canada’s info sheet.

The best way to prevent long COVID is to minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19

Anything you can do to help reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 will help reduce your risk of long COVID. This includes vaccination and keeping up to date with any recommended booster shots.

[1] The Government of Canada, “Post COVID-19 condition (long COVID)“, 2023

[2] Knoebel Institute fo Healthy Aging, “Linseman Laboratory“, 2023

Do I or my loved one need a booster dose?

The World Health Organization has officially announced that the COVID-19 global emergency is over [1], but that the virus is still a global threat to health and safety. Not only are deaths and severe illness still being recorded, but there are a lot of people who are living with post-COVID-19 effects. It’s still incredibly important for people to take safety precautions. This includes vaccinations.

You’ve probably heard or read about COVID-19 vaccine boosters, but you may not be sure what it is or if it’s something you or your loved one with a brain injury should get.

What is a booster dose?

A booster dose is a vaccination you can receive after your first two shots (the primary series). Booster doses give you more protection against severe illness. As the name suggests, it gives your immune system and your primary vaccinations a boost.

Should I or my loved one get a booster dose?

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that anyone 18 years and older should receive at least one booster dose after getting their primary series of vaccinations [2]. Adults 18+ with higher risks of severe illness from COVID-19, as well as people aged 65+, should be able to access a booster dose from the start of fall 2022.

As of spring 2023, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended that the following groups be eligible for an additional booster dose [3]:

  • Adults 80 years and older
  • Adult residents of long-term care homes and other congregate living settings for seniors or those with complex medical care needs
  • Adults 18 years of age and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (due to an underlying condition or treatment)
  • Adults 65 to 79 years of age, particularly if they haven’t had the virus before

If you or your loved one fall into one of those categories, you can talk to your doctor or look into your province/territory’s vaccination clinics.

More information on COVID-19 booster doses by province/territory

You can learn more about what vaccination doses you are eligible for from your province/territory.

[1] The World Health Organization, “WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing – 5 May 2023”, 2023

[2] The Government of Canada, “COVID-19 vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide“, 2023

[3] National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), “Guidance on an additional COVID-19 booster dose in the spring of 2023 for individuals at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19“, 2023

What not to say to someone with a brain injury

One of the most frustrating aspects of living with the effects of brain injury is trying to get other people to understand how they are feeling and how much they are impacted by cognitive, physical, emotional and behavioural effects.

Click to learn more about:

You may not be familiar with brain injury or how the person wants to speak about it. Therefore, the things you say could be hurtful. The only way you will know how to talk about brain injury appropriately and respectfully is to talk to your friend or family member and use available education resources.  Create an atmosphere of open communication and dialogue with your friend or family member. Knowledge leads to understanding and even though it can be frustrating, confusing and takes patience, it is important.

Here are some examples of what not to say to someone with a brain injury.

“When will you get better? “
No one wants to live with memory loss, fatigue, pain, or any of the other effects of brain injury. Survivors want to get as well as possible as quickly as possible – but recovery does not happen overnight. It takes a long time, a lot of patience, and a lot of dedication to rehabilitation. It is important for families and friends to recognize this process. Your friend or family member is continually recovering and adapting to their brain injury. Let them know you are there to support them however they need and ask them how you can help them. Keep the dialogue going over time, as things may change for the person.  Symptoms can come and go and there may be times when they are doing well, and times when they will have setbacks.  Be their cheerleader through it all.
Glad to see you are back to your normal self “
Comments like this, while well-meaning, can be hurtful to the person with a brain injury. Brain injury is called the invisible disability for a reason. The person may look and seem normal when you see them, but what you don’t know or understand is what it has taken to get them to that moment. They may have slept for hours to prepare to see you and will then need to sleep for hours after to recover. Or that they spend most of their time isolated from the world to cope with symptoms such as light and sound sensitivity. Or that they have not opened their mail in weeks because the task is too daunting.

Ask your friend or family member instead how they are doing and really listen to the answer. Don’t make assumptions about their health and wellness based on how they look or act.

You never come out or hang out with us anymore”
Bright lights, competing sounds, and other sensory stimuli may be hard for a person after their brain injury, causing all sorts of symptoms or making symptoms worse. Group/family gatherings may not work anymore. The person may even find being with more than one person at a time a challenge. It is easy for individuals with brain injury to become isolated, partly because of their injury, but also due to lack of education and awareness of others about what they are going through and what they need. Ask your friend or family member what works best for them. Let them you know you still want to see them but let them control the environment. Encourage them to decide when and where works best so they can get more enjoyment from being with their family and friends. It is important for their recovery and their mental health to be socially engaged and valued.
I feel like you are different, and our relationship has changed”
They may be different. They are dealing with a whole new set of circumstances than before their brain injury.  Dwelling on those changes and framing them in a negative light will make both you and the person with a brain injury feel hurt. Your relationship may change, but that doesn’t have to be a negative. Through communication and continued engagement, you can forge a new relationship path forward.
Weren’t you listening? I already told you that”
Your friend or family member is trying their best, but memory loss and focus are common challenges after brain injury. This can be incredibly frustrating for them.  They may also need more time to process information and sometimes things get lost. Be patient and not critical. There is no quick fix to memory impairments. You can help them find tips and strategies that will reduce frustration for both of you.

“You are always so irritable now. I feel like I am always walking on eggshells”
This can be hurtful and comes from lack of knowledge about the impairments caused by brain injury. The person may have emotional lability, which is uncontrollable mood swings that can cause excessive/inappropriate crying or laughing. They may be dealing with constant pain that leads to challenges coping with everyday activities. Their brain injury may cause an impairment in anger management or they may not be able to always filter or control what they say. They may be experiencing immense frustration that everything takes longer than it did before the injury.  They may be frustrated and angry that people just don’t understand them anymore.

You can play a stronger supportive role by educating yourself on what they may be experiencing and asking them how you can help when they are frustrated or agitated.  Sometimes all you must do is sit and be quiet with them, so they know they have your support.

These are just a small sample of phrases that may be hurtful to people with brain injury. No one is going to say the right thing all the time and the path through living with brain injury has many bumps and roadblocks for everyone involved. The most important things you can do is be patient and supportive and educate yourself as much as possible about brain injury. For example:

Journaling Workbook for Caregivers

Journaling is a beneficial tool for supporting an individual’s mental health. It encourages self-reflection and connection. This is especially important for people who have experienced significant changes in their lives, and may want to use tools to cope with those changes. This includes brain injury. While you may not have a brain injury, someone important to you has – and when you are a caregiver, you are affected as well. You also need and deserve access to resources that can help you navigate brain injury.

We have created journaling workbooks designed specifically for caregivers of individuals with brain injury that can be viewed, downloaded, and used at your pace.

Journaling Introduction

This PDF guidebook explains the benefits of journaling; how to journal; and what you may expect from the journaling process.

Watch this video from a journaling expert on the start of the journaling process

Caregiver Journaling Workbook

Now that you have read the introduction, you are ready to begin. This workbook includes recommendations for journaling; guided prompts; and more journaling activities you can use after you have completed this book.

Watch this video from a journaling expert upon the completion of your workbook

Life support

Life support is the term used to describe any combination of machines or medications that keeps a person’s bodily organs functioning when they would otherwise stop working [1]. In the case of brain injury, this may be a ventilator to help with breathing and other basic life functions.

Many things can happen when a person is on life support. In some cases, it can be used to help with surgeries, give a person time to heal, or extend a person’s life. Depending on their brain function, life support may just be extending a person’s life until their quality of life can be confirmed.

When your friend or family member is on life support due to a severe brain injury, it will be shocking and difficult. You may be put in the position of decision maker. If that is the case, you will need to prepare to talk with doctors and other family members who would be closely associated with the person. The information provided by the doctor will inform next steps.

Topics in this section include:

Going on life support

If the person is put on life support, it’s because it’s a matter of necessity. In the case of brain injury, it may be due to organ failure or a lack of brain function. Life support may be used temporarily to stabilize the patient until normal functioning can resume.

Doctors and nurses are the ones who generally make the decision about putting a patient on life support. The only exceptions are if the person has written medical instructions that says they don’t want to go on life support, or the person who has control over medical decisions for the patient declines it [2].

Transitioning off of life support

Whether or not a person will be able to come off life support will be determined by the doctor. If the person is able to transition off of life support, they will tell you about the process. They will then transition to the next stage of healing and recovery.

There is no set of rules for transitioning off life support, meaning that doctors can’t determine how long a person will need it. Factors such as the severity of the injury, the complexity of the person’s needs, and time all play a part – and they are also outside everyone’s control. As frustrating and scary as this is, the medical team is doing everything they can for your loved one. And if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. They will give you as much information as they can.

Removing life support after brain injury

You may be in a position where the doctor says there is nothing more that can be done for the person with a brain injury and they would not be able to survive off life support.

Removing life support after brain injury is an incredibly emotional and difficult decision. Any decisions will need to take into consideration the information by the doctor, the other family members, and ultimately any written wishes the person has left.

If you are faced with making this decision, it may be beneficial to consult with a trusted loved one, a therapist, or someone in your religious community (if you are religious).

There may also be support groups available made up of people who are (or have been) in your situation. Do some research on the Internet or ask the medical team if they know of anything.

Ultimately, the decision will be up to you. It’s a lot of responsibility, but remember that your loved one made you the medical power of attorney for a reason – they trusted you.

How to make decisions surrounding life support

Consult the person’s living will

The person on life support may have a living will that lays out plans for what to do in this situation. This may include whether the person wants to go on life support; how long they want to stay on life support; what conditions would need to be in place for them to be taken off life support; and what their wishes are in the event that they are taken off life support.

If a person does not want to be put on life support, the doctor will comply with those wishes. In the absence of any orders, the decision will be up to a family member or designated life guardian.

Talk to other family members

Other family members will have strong feelings and emotions surrounding the situation. It’s important to take their feelings into account, but also communicate the doctor’s findings to them.

Having a loved one on life support could make for some difficult conversations and family disagreements. Try prefacing conversations with the statement that any decisions need to be made for the person with the brain injury, not for you or others. Speak calmly and use the information the doctor has provided, and refer to any written wishes the person may have.

Consult with the doctors and other medical professionals

The person’s doctor will be able to provide the best recommendations when it comes to continuing life support or stopping it. Their advice may not be what you want to hear, but in some provinces and territories, the final decision does rest with the doctor in terms of supplying life support. The College of Physicians & Surgeons in your province/territory would have more information.

Ultimately, the doctor wants what’s best for the person on life support, the same as you and other family members.

Coping with feelings around life support

You may be feeling a lot of emotions in relation to your friend or family member being on life support, along with the pressures of being a decision maker. It is normal to feel a mixture of sadness, guilt and grief. Understanding these emotions can help you during the process.

Remember: your loved one trusted you. Even if you don’t have any formal medical power of attorney or wishes, they believed in you and your judgement. It’s an impossibly hard situation to be in: lean on your supporters, talk to the doctors, and most importantly, trust in yourself and the information you have received.


Circle of support

Supporting and caring for an individual living with a brain injury can leave both you and the survivor feeling isolated and alone. This may not be the case at first. While your loved one is in the hospital or when they first come home, people are dropping by to visit; food is being dropped off at home; and people are calling and texting for updates.

As time goes by, this often changes. You may realize your social circle, and the social circle of your friend or family member, has decreased significantly since the injury. The offers of help fade away, and you may be facing the daunting task of having to handle their care on your own.

People need the support of others, particularly when it comes to situations such as caring for someone with a brain injury. And you may have more support than you realize – you just need to take some time and visualize the whole network.

When you develop a circle of care, you build a network of people you know you can count on for support for yourself and your loved one.

An easy way to think of your circle of support is to draw a circle with you (or your loved one) at the centre. Depending on your situation, you may have multiple levels of support, with people to help your loved one or people to help you.

To develop your circle of support, you need to see which level is appropriate for each individual on your support team.

Circle of support diagram. A heart at the centre with 3 rings around with icons of people

Inner circle

The inner circle is usually those closest to the person with the brain injury or you. These are the people they rely on most and are more intimately involved in recovery and care. This is most likely where you would be when developing a circle of care for the person with the brain injury.

Other members of the inner circle of support/care can include:

  • Parents
  • Spouse/partners
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Close friends

These are the people that you may ask to help you with some of your caregiving should you need assistance.

Middle circle

The next layer in the circle of care would include people who are involved in the person’s life, but perhaps not on a day-to-day basis. There may be a broad range of people in this circle. Examples include:

  • Aunts and uncles
  • Grandparents
  • Friends and their spouses or partners
  • Neighbours
  • Family friends
  • Spiritual/faith-based supports
  • Peers or classmates and their families
  • Colleagues

Outer circle

The outer circle is made up of people and organizations that may not be used daily but can still be relied upon for support. These can include:

Formal support members

The circle of support can also include more formal supports such as paid caregivers.  Depending on where the person is in their recovery, a formal support member may be in the middle circle (such as a case manage or personal support worker), or the outer circle (like a psychologist or family doctor).

The following people could be considered formal supports:

  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Physiotherapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Social Worker
  • Case Manager
  • Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Psychologist
  • Chiropractor
  • Lawyer

The circle of support is for both survivors and caregivers

While the circle of support is designed for the person with a brain injury, it’s also for you. If you are the primary caregiver, you are going to have a lot of responsibilities and much of your time will be devoted to your friend or family member. While caregiving is rewarding, it can also be stressful. It’s important that the primary caregiver has a support network that can assist them when they need respite. This is where the circle of support comes in handy.

Identify your circle of support

To help identify the circle of support, list all the people who have been in their life and have shown interest in maintaining a relationship or helping. You can also include people that have offered to help you with caregiving.

Identify areas where help is needed

Having a list of the tasks or activities where you may need support is helpful to have on hand. Break the list up into different categories such as daily tasks, weekly tasks, or occasional tasks.

The individual person and your relationship with them will determine where they fit in your circle of support. If they can help with smaller occasional things such as picking up your mail; dropping off a meal; driving you to appointments; or fixing a broken item in your home, they may belong in your outer circle. If the person can help with things that happen more often such as activities of daily living (ADLs), they may belong in your inner circle.

Fostering your circle

It’s important for your circle to come together and understand how important they are to you/the person with a brain injury. If you choose, you could introduce members of your circle to each other. By doing this, you are turning your circle of support into a true community.

You can also foster your circle by helping people understand what you and the person with a brain injury need.

There are several resources that may be helpful for those in your inner circle:

We all need people who can support us and building a circle of care is one of the best ways to ensure that you and the person with a brain injury get the support and compassion needed.

National personal protective measures

Along with the COVID-19 immunization program, Canadian provinces and territories had protective measures in place. Many of these safety measures are no longer mandated, but they are still helpful for the wellbeing of you and your community.


To reduce the spread of COVID-19, Canada has put an immunization program in place to make COVID-19 vaccines free to anyone who chooses to receive them. These vaccines are administered through provincial/territorial programs, and help protect against COVID-19 and slow the spread of the virus.

Wear a mask

Wearing a face mask helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and can protect others around you. The virus can spread through respiratory droplets, which are droplets that are released when we talk, sneeze, cough, shout, and sing. When a person is infected with COVID-19, their respiratory droplets can infect other people if these droplets land on their mouths or noses, or if they are inhaled.

A mask acts as a barrier that can help stop respiratory droplets from spreading near other people. Masks work best when they are well-fitted and cover both your nose and mouth.

Wash your hands

Washing hands regularly helps stop the spread of COVID-19 and other germs. Germs can spread when you:

  • Touch your face with unwashed hands
  • Touch a contaminated surface or object with your hands
  • Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into your hands
  • Prepare or eat food with unwashed hands

Adapted from the Centre for Disease Control hand-washing information

Washing your hands can help eliminate these germs, which helps reduce the risk of you and other people from getting sick.

To wash your hands throroughly:

  1. Wet hands with running water
  2. Apply soap
  3. While your hands are out of the water, rub them together to cover all surfaces of your hands (including palms, back of hands, under nails, between fingers) for at least 20 seconds
  4. Rinse your hands well with running water
  5. Dry hands using a clean towel
  6. Turn off the tap using a towel

Adapted from the Government of Canada’s Reduce the spread of COVID-19: Wash your hands infographic

If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands. Rub the hand sanitizer all over the palms, backs and between the fingers on your hands until dry.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects

Although it is not certain that COVID-19 spreads through contact surfaces and objects, the Government of Canada recommends cleaning and disinfecting surfaces or objects people come in contact with frequently, which are the most likely to become contaminated with germs. For example, door handles or light switches. If there are traces of COVID-19 on these surfaces or objects, cleaning and disinfecting them can help deactivate the virus so it is no longer infectious.

Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing

When coughing or sneezing, ensure that you do it into a tissue or the bend of your arm rather than into your hand or into the air. When coughs and sneezes are covered properly, there is less of a chance for the germs coming in contact with someone else. If you do use a tissue, make sure you dispose of it as soon as you can in a waste container. Afterwards, ensure that you wash your hands or sanitize.

Keep fresh air circulating when you are indoors

An outdoor setting is always better when interacting with other people during the pandemic. If you are with others indoors,  it’s best to have good ventilation to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Good ventilation exchanges indoor air for outdoor air. If a room feels crowded, stuffy, or smelly, the room is not well-ventilated. To increase ventilation, you can open windows and doors, or if possible run a central air system such as an air conditioner or heat pump.

Protective measures from the height of the pandemic

These measures/mandates are no longer in place, but were important recommendations for health and safety. It may be that you still want to follow them.

Social/physical distance

Please note: The terms social distancing and physical distancing have been used interchangeably during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we will be using physical distancing.

Physical distancing means keeping distance from one another and limiting activities outside of our households. Recommendations from local health authorities during the pandemic suggested that physical distancing was maintaining at least a 1 or 2-metre distance (about 6 feet) between yourself and others.

The purpose of physical distancing was to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting contact with people as much as possible. You don’t need to physically distance yourself from people in your immediate household unless they are in quarantine or isolation.

Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada

Travelling outside of Canada may put you at greater risk of getting COVID-19. Other countries may have lower vaccination rates or safety protocols that are different from those in your area, like no mask mandate. This could result in COVID-19 spreading more easily.

Additionally, travelling outside of Canada means that there is a higher chance you could come into contact with variants of COVID-19 that are not common in your area. These variants may be able to spread more easily or be more resistant to known vaccines. For these reasons, non-essential travel should be avoided.

When you are ready to travel, it is important to research the requirements for the area. This may include a check in form or proof of vaccination.

Information on COVID-19 safety & health protocols by province/territory

You can find information on safety protocols based on your province/territory from the list below.

Food safety during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we do almost everything. To protect ourselves from contracting and spreading the virus, there are many new safety measures in place.

While we limit how much we go out, one thing that all of us do is grocery shop. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency ensures our foods are safe and healthy and the grocery stores themselves are doing their part to limit exposure. There are also no reports of COVID-19 being transmitted through food or food packaging. However, there are some basic health and food safety tips that can help you feel more comfortable shopping for food during COVID-19.

Wash your hands

Thorough hand washing is still one of the best ways to protect against the spread of COVID-19. You should wash your hands for a full 20-30 seconds with warm water and soap.

Use hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes on carts and baskets

Most grocery stores have taken the responsibility to disinfect the shopping carts and baskets, and they are doing an incredible job. If you want to take some extra precaution, you can use disinfectant wipes on the handles of carts and baskets. You can also wipe down the top edges of the baskets and carts in case you think you may touch them at some point.

Wear your mask, and avoid touching your face

Masks are required in most places, particularly grocery stores where physical distancing isn’t always possible. Make sure that you put your mask on before you enter the store, and do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth during your shopping trip.

Only touch the groceries you intend to take

While shopping, limit the number of items you touch. Pick up only what you plan on purchasing.

Pay with a debit or credit card

If possible, always try to pay with a debit or credit card. with the TAP method. Avoid using cash as much as possible. If you must use cash, sanitize your hands before and after touching it.

Wash all your produce and wipe down your groceries

When you are home, there are a few precautions you can take to safely store your food.

  • Wipe down your plastic and cardboard containers, bottles, and bags with a disinfectant wipe
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables before putting them in the fridge or pantry
  • Once you have completed the wiping, washing, and disposing of grocery items, be sure to wipe down your table, counter, and sink with soap and water or with a disinfectant wipe/spray
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

Reduce the number of times you shop by meal planning

Many people are planning their meals out over the course of 1-2 weeks so they don’t have to make frequent trips to the grocery store.

Meal planning may seem daunting if decision-making or planning ahead is something that you find difficult. But meal planning can actually reduce the need for quick decision-making and give you space to work on your planning skills.

Check to see if your local grocery store has special hours

Some grocery stores have special hours in place, with times set aside specifically for elderly individuals or people with disabilities. You can call your local store and ask about their policies.

Alternate methods of getting your groceries

Grocery shopping has changed immensely over the past year. The pandemic has placed restrictions on occupancy in stores, and stores have had to adapt. Home delivery and curbside pickup have become popular alternatives to shopping in person.

Home delivery allows you to order your groceries online and have them delivered to your home through a service. An example of this is Instacart. While this can be an effective substitution for in-person shopping, delivery times and product availability may be limited.

Curbside pickup allows you to order your groceries online or over the phone, and arrange to pick them up at the store’s location without going inside.

Another option is meal kits. Brands like Hello Fresh can deliver meals with portioned ingredients directly to your door, eliminating the need to go to the grocery store as much.

Whichever way you are able to get your food, the important thing is that you feel safe and comfortable. If you need help with grocery shopping or food safety, reach out to a family member or caregiver.

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