Re-Integration of Family Caregivers as Essential Partners in Care in a Time of COVID-19

Jul 08, 2020

July 2020

Since 2015, open family presence policies had become common in Canada’s hospitals. In the winter of 2020, a CFHI study showed 73 percent of surveyed hospitals had accommodating visiting policies. By mid-March, the situation changed dramatically in response to COVID-19, and with some specific patient exceptions, none of the hospitals in a follow-up study had accommodating policies.

The rapid shift to restrictive policies was done with the best intent, but extending restrictions also brings risks. The important role of family caregivers is grounded in growing evidence that shows their presence benefits care, experience, safety and outcomes.

To help hospitals move forward and reintegrate family caregivers as essential partners in care CFHI convened a Rapid Response Expert Advisory Group composed of clinicians, healthcare system leaders, hospital CEOs, legal/bioethics experts, public health experts, and patient, family, and caregiver partners from across the country.

CFHI and the advisory group identified seven specific steps to guide policy reviews:

  1. Ensure a foundation of patient- and family- partnered care
  2. Revisit policies on family presence with patient, family and caregiver partners at the table
  3. Distinguish between family caregivers who are essential partners in care and visitors
  4. Consider the needs of people who face specific risks without the presence of family caregivers as essential partners in care
  5. Take a comprehensive, balanced approach to assessing risks
  6. Establish a rapid appeal process
  7. Increase the evidence to guide decisions regarding family caregiver presence.

These evidence-informed steps are intended to complement provincial/territorial guidance. Key resources are also included.

Download the Re-Integration Report logo