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November 2015
Family Presence Policies: Because families are more than visitors, they are partners in care
Nov 10, 2015 8:00 AM

Today we're excited to support the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI), in partnership with the Institute for Patient-and Family-Centered Care and a dozen leading healthcare organizations across Canada, to launch the Better Together: Partnering with Families campaign that encourages hospitals to adopt family presence policies that view family members as ‘partners in care’ rather than as ‘visitors.’

Family presence policies enable patients to designate family members or other caregivers to have unrestricted access to them while they are hospitalized. “Family presence is an innovative approach enabling family and loved ones to more fully participate in patient care by being present for physician rounds and helping their loved ones with transitions in care,” says Stephen Samis, Vice President, Programs, CFHI. “Our polling shows that nine in 10 Canadians support family presence. We are encouraging hospitals to start a conversation with their patients, families and staff about making this change.”

Recent research shows that nearly half of Canadian hospitals have policies that are at least somewhat accommodating, with about a quarter of hospitals receiving top marks for having visiting policies that promote family presence and participation. Many leading hospitals have already adopted family presence policies in place of more traditional visiting hours, including Kingston General Hospital, Alberta Health Services South Campus and Providence Health Care in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We asked Emily Nicholas Angl, Patient Advisor with Patients Canada, how an open and flexible visitor policy helped her through a tough hospital stay. "Having my family with me while I was in hospital not only made the experience more tolerable, it was also an important part of easing my transition back home," said Emily. "They had been with me every step of the way which meant they understood how to support me when I left the hospital."

The family presence policy innovation is a practical step organizations can take to deliver more patient and family-centred care. Benefits of family presence include better informed assessments and care planning; lower readmission rates; fewer medication errors and improved medication adherence; maintaining cognitive function in seniors; fewer falls and other accidents; improved coordination of care; reduced lengths of stay and emergency department visits; decreased patient and family anxiety; improved organizational culture; and improved patient outcomes.

Patients Canada is one of many organizations supporting this campaign, others include Accreditation Canada; B.C. Patient Safety & Quality Council; Canadian College of Health Leaders; Canada Health Infoway; Canadian Patient Safety Institute; Health Quality Council of Alberta; Imagine Project; Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety; Patients for Patient Safety Canada; Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario; and the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council.

What can I do?

We encourage patients and families to speak with their local hospitals about adopting a family presence policy. After all, famillies are more than visitors, they are partners in care. Learn more today! For healthcare organizations interested in adopting family presence policies, take the Better Together pledge on CFHI’s website.

ALL, About the healthcare system , Patient-centred measures  



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