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A new approach to visiting and family presence

Toronto, April 24, 2017

By Emily Holton

Starting April 24, St. Michael’s is making it easier for family and friends to support their loved ones in hospital and to participate in their care. The hospital’s visiting hours now begin four hours earlier at 6:30 a.m. and end one hour later at 10 p.m. Patients also have the option for one family member or friend to stay at the bedside after 10 p.m.

These changes are based on a broad consultation with hundreds of staff, patients and family members about what kind of visiting model would work best at St. Michael’s.

“Almost every patient told us that a more supportive visiting policy would improve their experiences, recovery and wellbeing,” said Sonya Canzian, Executive Vice-President, Programs; Chief Nursing Executive; and Chief Health Disciplines Executive. “And although their need for family presence and support doesn’t end at a specific time of day, they also told us that they wanted a policy that is more structured than a fully ‘open-doors,’ 24-7 approach.”

Under the previous policy, two visitors per patient were allowed in the room at one time, with exceptions in special circumstances. A few areas of the hospital allowed visitors after hours, but they were approved on a case-by-case basis.

Under the new policy, during the day, the care team and patient will decide on how visitors can be present at the bedside at one time. This depends on the physical space, safety considerations and the patient’s needs.

After 10 p.m., patients across the hospital now have the option for one family member or friend to stay at the bedside. These visitors must be registered with the inpatient unit or Hospital Security (in the Queen lobby), and they must wear a temporary ID badge.

“Family members can and should be an integral part of the collaborative care team,” said Canzian. “I strongly believe that these are changes worth making.”

Research shows that family presence improves care and outcomes. Family and friends are often experts on the patient's baseline, and can help spot small changes in health status or behaviour. Family and friends at the bedside can help patients keep track of their history and care instructions, and will be better prepared to support the patient after they leave the hospital. But most importantly, family and friends can often give patients a sense of security and emotional support that the care team simply can’t match.

To learn more about our new, more supportive policy, watch our video or visit www.stmichaelshospital.com/familypresence

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.