Q&A: Visitation guidelines

What are the current visitation guidelines for VCH facilities?

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a number of challenges, including the ability for a family/support person to be able to visit a patient or resident. There is a public health order to limit visitors to essential visits only.

The definition of an essential visit can be difficult to determine and would benefit from a guideline to support decision making. The interests of the patient/resident and consideration of the safety of others who may be impacted by the visit must be considered. A risk assessment is required to ensure risks are identified and analyzed, and appropriate mitigation strategies are put in place to support visits where possible during COVID-19, or provide alternative means for a visit such as virtual visit or provide a rationale for when a visit request cannot be accommodated. Essential visits are granted because of unusually distressing circumstances affecting a patient or resident.

There may be a variety of reasons for a family member/or support person to want to visit an individual in hospital or long-term care during the COVID-19 outbreak, and a risk assessment should be completed prior to any compassionate visits being considered. Essential visits may be broadly defined as:

  • Visits for compassionate care (end of life and critical illness, with anticipated death within 48 hours)
  • Sites may in rare situations make an exception and allow one essential visitor where the patient’s/resident’s care needs cannot be met without the visitor’s assistance. Such visits are considered paramount to patient care and well-being, e.g. assistance with feeding or mobility that cannot be supported by health-care staff. Such visits may also include pediatric patients, maternity patients or patients with specific behavioral, mental health or spiritual needs that cannot be supported by onsite health-care staff.

Have more questions? Check out the resources below:

Guidelines for Visitation during COVID-19 to Support Compassionate and End of Life Visitation

Acute Care Visitation Algorithm

LTC Visitation Algorithm 

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