Evidence Brief: Caregivers as Essential Care Partners

During the COVID‑19 pandemic, early and tight blanket restrictions were placed on “visitors” in healthcare institutions, including acute care and rehabilitation hospitals, long‑term care homes, and in other residential congregate care settings. Well into the first year of the pandemic, emerging evidence demonstrates the significant impact such restrictions have had on the quality of life and physical and emotional/psychological well‑being of many people – including patients/residents/clients,* families, caregivers, and providers. There is also emerging evidence that demonstrates significant impact on patient safety, quality of care and outcomes.

This evidence brief provides a synopsis of growing evidence regarding the presence of caregivers as essential care partners. Evidence is presented in the following four key areas:

  • Benefits of family caregiver presence: Highlights the growing body of evidence that demonstrates improvements in patient safety, patient experience, patient outcomes and patient care with presence of essential care partners across a range of institutional care settings.
  • Better Together: family caregiver presence policies in hospitals across Canada. Results of previous CFHI programming in Better Together demonstrate shifts in family presence policies in hospitals across Canada over the past 5 years; changes in family presence policies are also noted during COVID-19 in hospitals and long-term care settings.
  • Transmission of COVID-19 in hospitals and long-term care: Reports on the transmission of COVID-19 within facilities during this time of pandemic.
  • Impacts of restrictive visiting policies during COVID-19 in hospitals and long-term care: Emerging evidence highlights the multitude of risks noted to patient care, patient safety and patient outcomes, as well as impacts on families.

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