Healthcare Excellence Canada launched Essential Together – a program to support policy makers, policy implementers and those who experience policy relating to family presence during the pandemic and beyond.
We’re calling on health and care organizations across the country to join Essential Together and implement co-created policy guidance so that essential care partners can continue being active members of care teams that benefits patient care, patient safety and outcomes, including during COVID-19.
Essential Together takes a balanced approach to support the safe re-integration of essential care partners. The program offers:
- Learning bundles with tools and resources that can be adapted to implement the policy guidance (available to anyone interested).
- Essential Together Huddles that create an open and safe supportive space for people to learn from and connect with others who are facing similar challenges (available to anyone interested).
- Access to dedicated coaching and other support (for organizations that formally join the program).
- Ongoing peer learning and connections.
Essential care partners are different from general visitors. While visitors have an important social role, they are not active partners in care. Essential care partners provide physical, psychological and emotional support, as deemed important by the patient. There is clear evidence that the presence of essential care partners benefits care, experience, safety and outcomes.
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.”
[i] Farmanova, Elina, Maria Judd, Christine Maika, and Graeme Wilkes. “Much More Than Just a Visit: A Review of Visiting Policies in Select Canadian Acute Care Hospitals.” Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (2016), https://www.cfhi-fcass.ca/docs/default-source/itr/tools-and-resources/better-together-baseline-report.pdf .