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Open family presence guidelines address common questions, scenarios


We believe families are equal partners in their loved one’s care.To support their presence in our facilities, RQHR is removing visiting hour restrictions to support a policy of open family presence. All provincial health regions are adopting this change.

Open Family Presence
In the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, families are considered partners in the care of their loved ones. Surrounding patient George Bacon are (left to right) Anthony Lorenzo, Licensed Practical Nurse, Brenda Hanson, Registered Nurse, and Gordon and Brenda Bacon. Photo credit: Medical Media Services.

“Families are essential to patients’ health and well-being,” says Keith Dewar, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We welcome families 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The following guidelines are intended to assist staff, patients and families during this time of transition:
  • Patients determine who they consider to be family. It isnot necessary to be a blood relative.
  • Patients and their families are partners at bedside rounds.
  • The number of people welcomed at the bedside at any one time will be determined in collaboration with the patient, family and multi-disciplinary care team. In situations where there are shared rooms, this discussion includes the other patient and his/her family. To ensure safety, consideration will also be given to the physical limitations of the space.
  • Family and guests who are feeling unwell, have an infection or symptoms of a respiratory illness or flu-like illnesses should not visit a health care facility.
  • If an outbreak of infection requires restrictions for public health, the staff will collaborate with the patient and family to ensure that selected family members are still welcomed.
  • Patients and families will be expected to follow infection control practices when visiting.
  • Children younger than 14 years supervised by an adult (who is not the patient) are welcome.
  • There may be interruptions to family presence to protect the privacy rights of other patients or to maintain safety and security. Patients and families are asked to help protect the privacy rights of others.
Procedures and standard work are being developed to support unrestricted visiting hours and provide staff and physicians with processes to manage unique circumstances. The open family presence policy team is working with operational clinical leads to oversee the implementation of the policy Region-wide. For more information, contact Tamara Quine, Patient and Family Centred Care Specialist. For more information on this policy visit our webpage.

Kozan Family
Pictured are the Kozan family (clockwise, bottom left): Jeanne, Ruth, Kayla, Kevin and their dog, Abby.

Family essential to recovery, says former patient
Kayla Kozan, who was hospitalized at Regina General Hospital (RGH) for three weeks in 2014, said having family members present was vital to her recovery. 

“The comfort of being around someone you love while battling an illness is indescribable,” said the 24-year-old. “Knowing that I had a family member coming to visit the next day gave me hope and helped me weather the emotional rollercoaster of my hospitalization.”

Her father, Kevin, said both he and his wife felt their presence was essential to their daughter’s recovery. “We really felt part of the solution. Being present allowed us to get in tune with the illness. In lots of cases, parents need to change their behaviours, too.”

Kevin was excited to learn that the Region is removing visiting hour restrictions, saying he would have appreciated the move when his daughter was in hospital.

Deb Kosabek, Manager of RGH’s General Surgery/Burn/Short Stay Unit (6A), adopted an open family presence policy on her unit in 2009 in large part due to participating in government discussions prior to the release of Saskatchewan’s Patient First Review. The review called for a renewed commitment on the part of those in health care to put the patient first.

She notes that research has shown patients, residents and clients who are supported by families and friends have better mental and emotional health, which helps them heal and manage their illnesses.

“When families are present, the patient has less anxiety, feels supported, and has a network to advocate for them,” she said. “Families know their loved ones best and are our greatest resource. It’s important to look at patients and their families as part of a team.

“When you include families in the circle of care, it develops a different feeling on the unit. Patients don’t feel like they’re a other.”

Kosabek has received a number of letters from patients, families and regional staff that praise 6A staff for their compassion, knowledge, professionalism and teamwork.

“You all restored my faith in nursing,” wrote a former registered nurse, while another letter writer said the impressive 6A staff was “the reason I progressed through the difficulties and challenges of an altered health status due to a colostomy and ileostomy.”

The open family presence policy has been approved by the Ministry of Health and all regional health authority CEOs. It was created by the Patient and Family Centred Care Guiding Coalition which includes representation from patients and families, all health regions, the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council, the Ministry of Health and health partners.