December 19, 2018
Marga Bond, Patient and Family Advisor at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, worked to ensure that our Hospital’s visitation policies are in the best interests of patients and their families.
What’s the difference between a Visitor and a Care Partner? Both are important to patients, and both help improve experiences in care. At Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Care Partners are important member of the patient’s care team.
Our Patient and Family Centred Care philosophy is about working together – patients, families and health care providers. It means decisions are made as a team. That is how our Hospital identified a difference between Visitors and Care Partners.
Patients determine who their Care Partners are. It may be a family member, friend, or significant other who provides physical, psychological, or emotional support. Care Partners have nearly unlimited access to spend time with the patient to support and participate in their care.
A visitor is a guest or family member of the patient, who has not been identified by the patient as a Care Partner. Regular visiting hours for persons, excluding Care Partners, are from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m, with a quiet and rest time promoted between 8:30 p.m. until 10:00 a.m.
To ensure the visitation policies would best suit the needs of our patients, the Patient Family Advisory (PFA) Council was engaged to provide their insights and recommendations. The PFA Council is comprised of patients or patient’s family members who volunteer their time to help make improvements at our Hospital. Patient Family Advisors help us meet the needs and priorities of our patients, families and community.
“As volunteer representatives of patients, care partners and families, we took great care and had very robust discussions about what visitation guidelines would be best for everyone involved,” said Marga Bond, PFA. “Regular visiting hours ensure our patients don’t get overwhelmed with visitors coming by at all hours, and is respectful of other patients’ needs. However, we agreed that patients should always have someone there for them to provide support, which is why Care Partners have unrestricted visiting hours.”
Ensuring patient comfort, safety and quality of care is reflective of the Hospital’s commitment to ensuring a quality patient experience. “Both the patients and the Care Partners benefit from this policy,” said Bond. “No one wants their loved one to be alone during what can be a difficult time. This way, patients and their families feel comforted and experience less anxiety knowing that support is available and can be provided to the patient at all times.”
Although every effort is made to accommodate Care Partner’s requests to stay with the patient at all times, it is important to note that approval for such requests can be dependent on the concerns or care needs of other patients, space limitations, confidentiality, privacy and risk of infection control. A Care Partner or visitor who is unwell or who has been exposed to an infectious disease is asked not to visit but to consider utilizing other venues to communicate and support the patient. This may include designating an alternate Care Partner, sending notes or emails, and telephone or video conversations.