Join Essential Together

Individuals or teams of people that implement healthcare policy and are dedicated to improving family presence can formally join Essential Together.

Step 1

As part of joining Essential Together, we ask you to commit to the call to action:

  • As leaders, providers and staff within health and care facilities, we value and support the role of essential care partners within our organization.
  • We support patients to identify essential care partners.
  • We are committed to welcoming back and supporting essential care partners to safely participate as part of care teams.

Step 2

Complete a simple registration form that will provide us with some information about how we can best work with you.

As part of registering, we encourage you and your team to collaborate with patients and patient partners and use the Essential Together Tool to identify strengths and areas for improvement within your organization. If you feel comfortable sharing your completed tool with us, you can either email us the or complete an online version. We will aggregate the data for our evaluation purposes and the information you share will remain confidential. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your tool, you can still participate in the program.

Join Essential Together

Step 3

Reflecting on your completed Essential Together tool, review and implement the seven policy guidance elements together with patients and patient partners. The implementation of the guidance should be based on the local context of your facility.

The guidance consists of seven key areas to help organizations identify and prepare essential care partners and then support them as they enter health and care facilities. We have seen many innovative examples of organizations leading the way in family presence during the pandemic and have developed seven online learning bundles with growing lists of tools and resources for you to draw on.

Step 4

You are not alone! We know these are challenging times and we’re here for you. Take advantage of peer to peer learning opportunities through Essential Together Huddles. Huddles give you and your colleagues a shared space for mutual support, advice and empathy.

Step 5

Once you register, we will reach out with further details regarding coaching opportunity and also have a conversation to explore if there are other ways we can support you and your organization. Coaching can provide you with expertise in change management, co-design, patient- and family-partnered care (and more) to help you take action and implement the policy guidance.

Essential Together has been designed together with policy makers, implementers and those with lived experience to ensure that it meets the needs of many people and organizations across the country. It’s intended to be flexible and you can draw on the components of the program you need.

Please note, if you are a team participating in LTC+ Acting on Pandemic Learning Together, you can still join Essential Together (and are encouraged to do so, especially if you have identified presence of family as a key focus area).

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.”