Family Presence During Resuscitation Boosts Satisfaction and Professionalism

Bold approach presented at 6th International Conference on Patient- and Family-Centered Care in Vancouver, B.C., August 6-8, 2014

Vancouver, Canada - August 7, 2014 - A bold new approach at Calgary’s South Health Campus (SHC) of Alberta Health Services has revived discussions about the advantages of family presence during resuscitation efforts.

SHC has found that having family at the bedside has clear benefits for all parties – the families, the patient and the health care team, says Joanne Ganton, Manager of Patient and Family Centred Care at SHC.

Ganton will present the SHC experience at the 6th International Conference on Patient- and Family-Centered Care: Partnerships for Quality and Safety taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, August 6-8. The conference is hosted by the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, in partnership with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) and Providence Health Care of British Columbia.

There are several traditional objections to the idea of family presence: resuscitation is too traumatic an event for families to witness, or that there’s simply not enough space in the room. Some even argue that a family member could faint, creating another patient.

Yet the American Association of Critical Care Nurses cites more than a dozen research papers and surveys showing that health care consumers disagree. Most believe family members should be offered the chance to be present during emergency procedures such as resuscitation.

Patients who survive report that they felt the presence of their loved ones, and that comforted them. Family members commonly say that being in the room eased their own anxiety. They feel they’re involved in the care, and see firsthand that everything possible is being done for their loved one.

“You’re there so patients can feel your presence, your voice, your touch,” says Ganton. “That, can be as powerful as any medical intervention.”

Ganton adds that family presence also decreases complaints and concerns: family members are no longer struggling to seek information about what happened during the resuscitation.

“This hospital believes patient and families should be true partners in care,” says Stephen Samis, Vice President, Programs, Canadian Foundation of Healthcare Improvement. “This has created an environment that puts of the needs of the patient first, improves the communication of the hospital team in a crisis situation and makes the family a partner in care.”

Since SHC adopted the guideline in June 2013, the majority of families who have been in the hospital at the time of resuscitation have welcomed the opportunity to remain in the room. This practice is in place in several other Emergency Departments in AHS facilities.

“Family Presence is a philosophy and practice starting to take hold in adult hospitals, as it has long been supported in children’s hospitals,” says Valrie Stewart, Clinical Facilitator in Patient and Family Centred Care at SHC, who will present with Ganton at the Vancouver conference. “At the South Health Campus, family presence is welcomed not only at resuscitations, but also in the inpatient units, at diagnostic tests, invasive procedures, in the Intensive Care Unit, in the Emergency Department, and now even in the Post Anesthesia Recovery Room.”


For more information, contact:

Elissa Freeman
For the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
Cell: 416.565.5605

Holly Roy
Publicist, Western Canada
Cell: 780.991.2323