STEGH launches Family Presence Guidelines

(St. Thomas, ON) – St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) has formally launched its new Family Presence Guidelines, eliminating set visiting hours and welcoming family members as partners in care 24 hours a day according to the patient’s preference.

“STEGH is committed to working with our patients and families to provide compassionate, high quality care and we believe it is important for patients to experience the support of family and friends if this is their wish,” says Paul Collins, President and CEO.

The Family Presence Guidelines were developed and informed by STEGH’s Patient Experience Council members to ensure the voice of the patient was included in the process. STEGH’s Patient Experience Council was formed one year ago and members identified the revision of STEGH’s existing Visiting Hours Policy as a priority project.

“For patients, evidence suggests that supporting family presence and participation according to patient’s preferences decreases anxiety and confusion, makes the patient feel more secure and increases patient satisfaction, quality and safety,” says Andrea Fordham, Patient Experience Council Co-Chair. “The presence of family members also promotes better communication and allows for more opportunities for patient and family teaching.”

Highlights of the guidelines include:

• Families and other partners in care are welcome 24 hours a day according to patient preference.
• The number of people welcomed at the bedside at any one time will be determined in collaboration with the patient and family.
• In situations where there are shared rooms, the rights and needs of the other patient will be taken into consideration as well.
• STEGH supports a patient’s right to identify individuals they view as family and choose to be partners in care. Patients also have the right to limit or deny visitation.
• Children supervised by an adult are welcome.
• Family supporting a patient between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. are asked to stay in the patient’s room and advise staff when leaving. The East entrance is the entry and exit point during these hours
• During a declared infection outbreak (ie: influenza) or other hospital emergency, visiting may be restricted or cancelled to ensure patient and staff safety.
• All family and visitors will be required to follow hand hygiene and personal protective equipment protocols.

The Family Presence Guidelines are posted on STEGH’s website.

“Eliminating restrictive visiting policies and supporting staff to welcome and partner with families and other care partners will help our hospital improve the experience of care, reduce harm and improve transitions of care,” adds Collins.

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