Close this search box.

Caregivers Guide to Sheltering in Place

As of 12 a.m., March 20, the entire state of California has been directed to “shelter in place” to slow the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. Sheltering in place is an emergency management term which means everyone except for those performing essential services must stay home and only leave home for activities such as shopping for food and medical appointments.

IHSS caregiving is an essential service. If you are an IHSS provider, continue to care for your client unless either of you show symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19. If you are infected with the virus or believe you are infected with the virus, help your client call the county to request a backup caregiver. If you believe your client has contracted the virus, contact their doctor immediately as seniors and people with disabilities are at a high risk of developing severe and life-threatening complications from COVID-19.

Your union, UDW, is working with the state government to get the protection and support we need during this crisis. The Governor has expressed his support and respect for the work we do and the critical role we play in keeping seniors and people with disabilities safe. UDW’s number one priority right now is to ensure that IHSS providers and clients are safe, healthy, supported and informed.

The following is a guide you can use to navigate the shelter at home phase of this crisis. We have collected the best information we have on what you should and shouldn’t do, as well as suggestions for activities to improve your well-being while sheltering at home.

During shelter in place you can leave your home to do the following things:

  • Buy food, groceries or supplies
  • Obtain medical care
  • Perform work that’s deemed essential
  • Maintain an essential governmental function such as IHSS
  • Care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Engage in outdoor activities such as walking, biking or running as long as you stay at least 6 feet away from other people

Essential public services will continue. Essential infrastructure and governmental functions include:

  • Health care operations
  • Airports, roads, public transit
  • Water, sewer, gas, solid waste collection services
  • First responders and law enforcement
  • Telecommunications, including cellphone and internet services
  • Construction, including to help house people

Essential businesses that will continue to operate include:

  • Hospitals and health care operations
  • Pharmacies
  • Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out
  • Airlines, taxis and ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber
  • Gas stations
  • Banks
  • News media
  • Hardware stores
  • Mailing, shipping and delivery services
  • Agriculture and food cultivation
  • Other services including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, laundry and legal services
  • Schools and colleges, although many public school districts have already canceled in-person instruction
  • Child care facilities, under certain conditions
  • Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children, hotels, motels
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults or children

What about seeing friends?

You can engage in outdoor activities like walking your dog, but you should maintain 6 feet of distance from all other people. And it’s OK to drive to parks or to go the beach and to ride a bicycle for exercise.

Gatherings of any size outside of homes and residences are prohibited, except if they’re for essential functions.

Postpone house parties and family gatherings. People from different households or living units should not gather, unless they’re conducting essential business.

A few other things you should know:

  • All non-essential travel during this time should be canceled.
  • Shelter in place does not apply to people experiencing homelessness, although they are strongly urged to seek shelter.
  • Some grocery stores are limiting the amount of food you can buy at one time. This is an effort to ensure there will be enough food for everyone. Grocery stores will stay open for business.
  • Due to loss of income, many households are experiencing economic stress. There is a campaign to keep electricity on for those who cannot pay their bills and to suspend evictions. Expect more updates on this.

By staying home and limiting contact with other people, we can slow to spread of COVID-19. This will keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed by sick people, ensuring enough medical care for those who do need it. We all have a part to play in limiting the spread of this virus. Sheltering in place requires everyone to stay home, not just vulnerable people, because anyone can become a carrier of COVID-19, which could lead to more spread of the virus.

Basic Information about how to stay healthy:

As of March 2020, scientists don’t know how long the virus lives on different types of surfaces. The best defense is to clean surfaces and your hands often, and to minimize contact with public surfaces such as door handles and gas pumps. Use a paper towel or nitrate glove to touch public surfaces and wash your hands as soon as you can after touching the surface. Do not touch your face. Based on what we know right now, this virus is primarily spread through contact with the face.


Make sure you are keeping a daily routine, even if you are sheltering at home. Keep in contact with friends and loved ones, spend time with your pets, prepare healthy meals and don’t overdose on news or media sources that make you feel anxious. Get as much rest as you are able and make sure to find ways to engage in physical activity.

UDW is committed to providing you with the latest information you and your clients need. Please check our website and our Facebook page for regular updates.

We are caregivers. We are strong. Together, we will get through this.