P.E.I. hospitals now welcome families, caregivers any time

Visiting hours at Island hospitals are now a thing of the past.

A new policy gives patients the right to decide who can spend time in their room at any time of the night or day, whether it's a family member or anyone else the patient deems a "partner in care."

Nearly 50 hospitals in Canada, including all in P.E.I., have adopted the new family presence policy, part of an initiative called Better Together by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI), the province announced Tuesday.

"We're hoping that we improve the patient's experience and that families are supported as well, in looking at informing the care team around any of the assessments or procedures or care planning that's happening for the patients," said Marion Dowling, chief of nursing, allied health and patient experience at Health PEI.

According to CFHI, research into the benefits of family presence shows improved patient outcomes and experience, fewer medication errors and falls, better-informed medical assessments and care planning, and reduced lengths of stay, re-admissions and emergency department visits.

'Stay by their side'

Patients benefit from having others who are well-informed about their care, Dowling added, when they are eventually discharged. 

"Family presence is about welcoming a patient's family into their health care journey, allowing designated family members or other loved ones who can stay by their side 24 hours a day," said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. 

Results from a July 2016 Health PEI survey noted many health care facilities were already relaxing the rules, offering more flexible visiting hours to meet the needs of patients and families, Health PEI said. 

Islanders are encouraged to check with health care facilities and providers on how the new policy applies to their family situation.

Health PEI's new family presence initiative can be seen at healthpei.ca/familypresence, and more on the Better Together initiative at cfhi-fcass.ca/WhatWeDo/better-together.

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