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What is an Essential Care Partner?

RVH is committed to providing safe, quality patient-centred care. This approach to the planning, delivery and evaluation of healthcare is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among healthcare providers, patients and families. Essential Care Partners (ECPs) are important members of that partnership. 

An ECP is someone appointed by the patient who is considered essential to their well-being while they are in our health centre. Unlike a visitor, who plays a social role for the patient, ECPs provide a patient with essential support and function as a valued member of the care team. As such, ECPs are allowed to attend the hospital more frequently and consistently and are not limited by regular visiting hours.

RVH recognizes the importance of ECPs — patients who have a familiar person supporting them may feel more comfortable and their health outcomes will improve. Some of the ways ECPs participate in patient care include:

  • Supporting patients who may have cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments
  • Supporting patients through decision-making and care planning while they are in the health centre
  • Assisting patients in eating, personal care, communicating or mobility

Patients are eligible for an Essential Care Partner if they meet the following criteria and are approved by the inpatient unit leader:

  • Are admitted to the health centre with an estimated length of stay for 5 days or longer AND
  • Meet the definition of a vulnerable patient: Someone who is or may be for any reason unable to protect and take care of themselves against significant harm or exploitation (e.g. patient under 18 years of age, has a cognitive impairment, significant developmental and/or intellectual disability, frail elderly, has mobility concerns, or is unable to effectively communicate).
  • Require assistance with one of the following:
    • Personal care, feeding/mealtime
    • Mobility
    • Communication for hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments
    • Supported decision-making

Once approved for the program, a person must complete the ECP training which outlines roles and responsibilities and complete Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) training.

ECPs are further required to:

  • Adhere to RVH safety protocols, Code of Conduct, and Patient & Family Rights and Responsibilities
  • Adhere to RVH IPAC standards at all times
  • Be considerate and respectful of all patients, members of the care team, staff and volunteers
  • Wear an ECP identification badge when at the health centre which must be returned when the patient is discharged

Q: Which patients are eligible to have Essential Care Providers?

A: It’s important to recognize that not all patients will be eligible for or benefit from the presence of an ECP. The following criteria must be met for a patient to have an ECP:

  • Admitted to an inpatient unit with an estimated length of admission of 5 or more days, AND
  • Meet the definition of vulnerable patient, AND
  • Require assistance with one of the following: personal care, feeding, mobility, communication for hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments, or supported decision-making
  • Unit leader approval

 

Q: What are some examples of a vulnerable patient that could qualify for having an ECP?

A: RVH defines a vulnerable patient as:

Someone who is or may be for any reason unable to protect and take care of themselves against significant harm or exploitation (e.g. patient under 18 years of age, mental health patients under 18 years of age, has a cognitive impairment, significant developmental and/or intellectual disability, frail elderly, has mobility concerns, or is unable to effectively communicate).

Some examples where the presence of an ECP would be beneficial are:

  • Patient requires assistance with personal care or feeding
  • Patient requires assistance with mobility, or is at significant risk of falls
  • Patient requires assistance with communication for hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual, or memory impairments
  • Patient requires assistance in supported decision-making

 

Q: Are all areas in the Health Centre included in the ECP program?

A: The areas have well established policies and processes in place to remove barriers and include caregivers in the care of patients. While these areas are not included in the ECP program, please speak with the care team on how they support caregiver integration.

  • Emergency Department
  • Maternal Child Program (Birthing Unit, Obstetrics, Paediatrics, NICU)
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Critical Care Areas (Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Care Unit)

 

Q: How does this affect the safety of everyone in the Health Centre? Are we expecting to have more people present in the Health Centre at any given time?

A: The safety of everyone remains the top priority at RVH and this program was created with patient safety in mind. Anyone who wishes to become an ECP will be required to complete Infection Prevention and Control training and abide by our safety protocols at all times. We are still allowing only one person at the bedside at any given time, ECPs are not granted an exemption to this rule.

 

Q: How do inpatients begin the process to designate an ECP?

A: Patients wishing to designate an ECP can fill out an application below and send it to patientexperience@rvh.on.ca or ask their care team for assistance submitting an application.

 

Q: How many ECPs may a patient have?

A: Each eligible patient may designate up to two ECPs. The ECP(s) will function in their role throughout the patient’s admission only.

 

Q: When can ECPs visit?

A: Since ECPs function as part of the patient’s care team, they are permitted to provide support to the patient during the below time frames based on the area the patient is admitted to. Only one ECP may be at the bedside at a time. ECPs must pass screening to enter and follow all RVH Infection Prevention and Control protocols.

  • Medicine/Surgery Inpatient Units: 8am-10pm
  • Adult Mental Health/Child & Youth Mental Health: Hours based on patient needs – to be discussed during ECP approval process.

 

Q: How will ECPs be identified?

A: ECPs will wear a special identification badge during their visit in the Health Centre. A badge will be issued by the Patient and Family Experience Office, and the ECP will be required to return the badge at the end of their visit.

 

Q: Can an ECP enter the Health Centre during an outbreak of COVID-19 or other?

A: No, ECPs are not exempt from visiting rules around outbreaks at the Health Centre. Exceptions may be made for compassionate reasons in certain circumstances.

 

Q: Can a visitor enter the building to see a patient when the ECP is present?

A: No, only one person is allowed at the bedside at any given time.

How to Apply

  • If you or a loved one is eligible for an ECP, please speak with a member of the care team and fill out the application form below.
  • Once sent, please allow 1 business day for the Patient & Family Experience Office to get back to you with further information on your application.
  • Please note: ECPs are not always required, and not every patient may qualify or be approved.

Once completed, either save your form as a .pdf or print and scan it. Then send in an email to patientexperience@rvh.on.ca