Around-the-clock visitation means better care for hospital patients

Categories: Care.

“They’ve never said anything to me, ever, or give me dirty looks. Actually, they like it when I’m here,” Linda said Tuesday, expressing her appreciation for a 24/7 visiting policy at the hospital that allows her to spend as much time as she wants with her extremely ill 70-year-old husband. 

She usually arrives around 10:30 a.m., stays with Giovanni until about 1:30, and returns a few hours later for his supper. His brothers take turns in the evening, keeping him company until he falls asleep. Giovanni’s been in the hospital since last April and Linda has missed just one day, for her niece’s confirmation.

“It means a lot to him that we’re all here,” she said.

Hotel-Dieu Grace was one of 50 hospitals and health-care organizations listed Tuesday by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, lauding them for embracing family presence policies. The foundation has been promoting 24/7 visiting hours, citing research that shows the payoff is: improved patient outcomes; fewer medication errors and falls; reduced lengths of stay; and a better transition to home resulting in fewer readmissions and emergency department visits.

There are also fewer medication errors when you allow family members to be more involved, said vice-president Stephen Samis. Since a CFHI study in 2015 found fewer than one-third of Canadian hospitals had “accommodating visiting policies,” there’s been a cultural shift that’s really picking up steam, he said. The 50 who’ve signed on in the last year include three entire provinces and numerous regional health authorities. 

“What we hear from nurses is they really appreciate having the family members there,” said Samis. “Someone who can pass a glass of water if the patient is thirsty, someone who can see the changes in the condition of a patient and report that to the nurse.”

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