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Essential Together Learning Bundles

As part of Essential Together and to support organizations to implement policy guidance that welcomes essential care partners into health and care facilities during COVID-19, we have curated learning bundles. These learning bundles centralize tools and resources from organizations across the country that support the safe reintegration of essential care partners.

These tools and resources are arranged into seven learning bundles that follow the respective Policy Guidance for the Reintegration of Caregivers as Essential Care Partners ( elements to help organizations identify and prepare essential care partners and then support them as they enter health and care facilities.

The tools and resources are open source, which means you can use and adapt them to fit your local context. If you know of other tools and resources to contribute to these learning bundles, or if there is something specific you are after, please get in touch.

Identify and Prepare Essential Care Partners

Develop mutual expectations of responsibilities

  • Ensure patients understand what an essential care partner is and are welcomed to identify their own essential care partners.
  • Establish process and roles to connect essential care partners with a staff point-person for consistent coordination.

Establish pre-entry preparation for essential care partners

  • Ensure consistent and ongoing information and education for essential care partners regarding safety protocols required for entry.

Establish staff education to understand roles and safety protocols for essential care partners

  • Ensure there is education and clear communication for staff regarding the role and value of essential care partners and their safe re-entry.

Establish a rapid appeals process

  • Communicate a clear and transparent appeals process to patients and essential care partners so concerns can be quickly raised and addressed.

Supporting Essential Care Partners as they Enter Health and Care Facilities

Establish a clearly communicated screening process

  • Implement a consistent screening process with relevant, evidence-informed protocols and questions.
  • Ensure clear communication regarding what is expected at screening.
  • Create an opportunity for different methods of pre-entry screening (for example online in advance) and provide information on expected safety protocols.

Establish caregiver IDs for essential care partners

  • Institute processes that clearly identify essential care partners.
  • Connect these processes with supportive education for safety protocols and personal protective equipment processes.

Ensure essential care partners are informed about existing and updated infection prevention and control protocols

  • Provide an opportunity for ongoing updates to ensure essential care partners are aware of current safety protocols and processes.

Other related material

We know there is different language and terminology used across the country, but to make sure we provide as much clarity as possible, in this context:

Blanket visitor restrictions refer to restrictions that extend to all “visitors” entering a facility, often without exceptions, including essential care partners.

Essential care partners provide physical, psychological and emotional support, as deemed important by the patient. This care can include support in decision making, care coordination and continuity of care. Essential care partners are identified by the patient (or substitute decision maker) and can include family members, close friends or other caregivers.

Patients includes residents and clients.

Patient partners include patients, residents, clients, families, caregivers and care partners, and others with lived experience who are working together with teams to improve the quality and safety of healthcare.

Health and care facilities refers to hospitals, long-term care/residential care/nursing homes and other congregate care settings as well as primary care and outpatient care settings.

Open family presence policies support the presence of essential care partners at patient bedside at any time and not restricted by “visiting hours.”