Today, Health Minister Dustin Duncan confirmed that Saskatchewan will be the first Canadian province to take a provincial approach to an open family presence policy in health care facilities. Health regions are now moving toward more flexible visiting hours in health facilities, which will welcome families 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the patient’s preference.
The approach recognizes that families are important partners in patient care, and are not simply visitors. The patient will define who comprises their family, such as relatives or other people they are close to.
“This is a great example of improving the patient experience, and we support it 100 per cent,” Duncan said. “Loved ones play an essential role in improving patients’ health, and help further our goal of providing high-quality, patient-focused care. To me, this policy change is an easy one to make.”
Open family presence is an internationally recognized best practice that can benefit patients in many ways, including increased co-ordination of care with front-line staff, fewer medication errors, fewer re-admissions, and an overall better patient and family experience.
“If I had been allowed to be at my mom’s bedside on my own terms, I would not have felt as much anxiety,” patient and family advisor Serese Selanders said. “The time left with my mom was measured in days. Every hour that we were prevented from seeing her was time we will never get back. Open family presence will change health care by helping everyone recognize that the ‘team’ includes families and loved ones.”
All health regions adopted this policy on March 31 and are at various stages of implementation. The experience of patients and families with open family presence may vary during this time.
For more information about the open family presence policy, visit the Health Quality Council (HQC) website at http://hqc.sk.ca/improve-health-care-quality/patient-and-family-centred-care/. HQC is co-ordinating provincial efforts to make Saskatchewan’s health system more patient- and family-centred.