On November 10, 2015, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI), in partnership with the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care and a dozen leading healthcare organizations across Canada launched the Better Together: Partnering with Families campaign that encourages hospitals to adopt family presence policies that view family members as 'partners in care' rather than as 'visitors.' Family presence policies enable patients to designate family members or other caregivers to have unrestricted access to them while they are hospitalized.
"Family presence is an innovative approach enabling family and loved ones to more fully participate in patient care by being present for physician rounds and helping their loved ones with transitions in care," says Stephen Samis, Vice President, Programs, CFHI. "Our polling shows that nine in 10 Canadians support family presence. We are encouraging hospitals to start a conversation with their patients, families and staff about making this change."
Recent research shows that nearly half of Canadian hospitals have policies that are at least somewhat accommodating, with about a quarter of hospitals receiving top marks for having visiting policies that promote family presence and participation. Many leading hospitals have already adopted family presence policies in place of more traditional visiting hours, including Kingston General Hospital, Alberta Health Services South Campus and Providence Health Care in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The family presence policy innovation is a practical step organizations can take to deliver more patient and family-centred care. Benefits of family presence include better informed assessments and care planning; lower readmission rates; fewer medication errors and improved medication adherence; maintaining cognitive function in seniors; fewer falls and other accidents; improved coordination of care; reduced lengths of stay and emergency department visits; decreased patient and family anxiety; improved organizational culture; and improved patient outcomes.
"Patients are more comfortable, family members are less stressed, and emotional healing seems to be very positive," says Kathy Stewart, Patient Experience Advisor at Kingston General Hospital. "There's a real sense of collegiality and feeling that there's a team in place."
This campaign is supported by leading healthcare organizations such as Accreditation Canada; B.C. Patient Safety & Quality Council; Canadian College of Health Leaders; Canada Health Infoway; Canadian Patient Safety Institute; Health Quality Council of Alberta; Imagine Project; Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety; Patients Canada; Patients for Patient Safety Canada; Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario; and the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council.
Healthcare delivery organizations spanning the continuum of care – including hospitals, health authorities, long term care facilities and others – that are interested in adopting family presence policies are encouraged to take the Better Together pledge on CFHI's website. Pledging organizations will be recognized on the website and have the opportunity to become part of an online learning community to share strategies, challenges and successes. Pledging to the Better Together campaign consists of at least one of the following: 1) A commitment at a healthcare leadership level to review their organization's current visiting hour policies and website with input from patients, families, clinicians and other staff, including those who have direct experience with 'visiting' policies; 2) A commitment to develop a family presence policy; and 3) A commitment to implement family presence policies and monitor impacts.
The campaign is supporting healthcare organizations to make this change, providing free resources to hospitals to make the change and implement family presence policies. To learn more about the Better Together campaign and take the pledge, please visit: http://www.cfhi-fcass.ca/WhatWeDo/better-together