Thursday, 12 November 2015

Embracing family presence at the bedside

Research shows that family, friends, and other support members play an important role in the patient’s hospital experience to improve patient safety and comfort, medical and psychological well-being, and the healing and recovery process.

Recognizing that family members are essential members of the health care team, we have worked over the past year to replace our “Visiting Hours Policy” with a Family Presence Policy that welcomes family members at the patient’s bedside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The concept of removing prescribed visiting hours through a Family Presence Policy is growing in popularity across North America, and this month we are joining that growing movement and building on our vision to provide patient- and family-centered care.

So why is MAHC implementing a Family Presence Policy? Quite simply to put patients and families first. We know that a loved one’s presence makes a positive impact on the physical and emotional recovery of patients and supports the best possible health outcomes for the patient.

However, we cannot open the floodgates without a few guidelines to ensure safety for everyone impacted by this positive change. Our Family Presence Policy takes a common-sense and collaborative approach to visiting. This means there will still be guidelines or parameters around visiting, for safety reasons.

Our patients will define who “family” is to them. Family is not necessarily a legal entity but rather whoever the patient tells us they consider as their family and how they will be involved in care, care planning and decision-making.

Timing of visits will be determined according to the patient’s preference and in collaboration with the interprofessional team. We must remember that sick people need rest, so while there are no specified visiting hours, we like to respect that overnight hours are quiet time. We may restrict the number of visitors to acknowledge the needs, comfort and privacy of our patients in shared semi-private and ward rooms if the visit is too disruptive to another patient’s sleep and/or care or treatment.  Visiting may also be interrupted due to private patient care, infectious outbreaks, or other unforeseen situations.

Tips for Visiting

  • We ask that families and other visitors come to the desk or nursing station of the patient’s care area before entering the patient’s room. This ensures visitors are not interrupting care processes that are private. 
  • Children under 14 years of age are welcome and must be supervised at all times during the visit by an adult who is not the patient.
  • Family members visiting during overnight hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. are required to receive temporary “Visitor” identification from Patient Registration. If the visit is planned ahead of time, advance notice to the hospital’s Switchboard with the estimated time of arrival is appreciated.
  • As always, we ask that people do not visit if they feel unwell in any way, but especially if they have a cough, fever, respiratory infection or diarrhea or if they have been in contact with anyone who has an infectious disease.
  • Be respectful. Disruptive behaviour is not tolerated at MAHC.
The Family Presence Policy was led by our Patient- and Family-Centered Care Steering Committee and involved community consultation that helped us to better understand the benefits and barriers to removing visiting hours. Please feel free to talk with us about our new policy, and any special requests that you have. We will do our best to meet your needs, while ensuring the safety of all our patients in a restful, healing and safe environment.