Can I be treated at home for COVID-19 even if it puts my life in danger?

COVID-19 affects people differently. Some people get extremely sick while others have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. You won't be admitted to hospital unless your symptoms are serious enough to need hospital treatment.

If you get seriously ill, treatment at home may not be possible, even if it's what you want and you're willing to take the risk.

Since COVID-19 is a communicable disease, the law gives medical officers of health (MOH) the power to make orders to protect others from harm. MOHs can order you to go into a hospital for care. If you refuse, the MOH can get a court order directing emergency personnel and police to enforce the order.

Getting home care

The testing agency will report your positive test to your local public health unit. If you're getting homecare services from Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS), you should tell your Care Coordinator right away.

Your care providers will have to take extra precautions. In addition to a face mask, they may also wear other personal protective equipment (PPE) like goggles, face shields, gowns, and gloves. If you need to see a doctor or other health professionals, they might only be available by phone or videoconference.

Since COVID-19 is very contagious, some care providers might not be willing to come to your home to care for you. They might be afraid of having to go into quarantine for 14 days or of getting infected and making their family members or other patients sick. They can refuse to come if they think it's unsafe. If treating you at home is too dangerous for other people, you may have to go to hospital.

If you're able to stay at home, you will have to quarantine, or stay away from other people until you're no longer contagious. Usually you must stay isolated for 14 days or even longer until you no longer have any symptoms or you test negative. Family members or others who live with you or have close contact with you will also be asked to quarantine and get tested.

Making medical decisions

If your condition becomes life threatening, you can still make your own decisions about treatment as long as you're “”. The health professional responsible for your treatment decides if you're mentally capable. You if you're not able to:

  • understand the information needed to make personal care decisions, or
  • appreciate what might happen when you make or refuse to make personal care decisions.

While you're mentally capable, you can refuse treatment or choose to receive only palliative care, unless your decision will cause a serious risk of harm to the health of other people. Palliative care is special medical care for people living with a serious illness that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms of the illness.

If you can't get enough palliative care through your HCCSS or private agencies, family members will have to help you with personal care, like feeding, toileting and bathing, as your illness gets worse. If they can't protect themselves with PPEs or they don't know how to care for you safely, this will put them at risk. If your home only has one bathroom or you can't be isolated in a separate room, being cared for at home will also put your family at risk.

Substitute decision-makers (SMDs)

If you're no longer mentally capable, a (SDM) will have to make decisions for you. This could be your Attorney for Personal Care if you've made a . If you haven't made one, there are rules about who can be your SDM. For more information, read the question What’s a Power of Attorney for Personal Care and why do I need one?

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