An Essential Care Partner (ECP) is someone who is considered essential to the well-being of a patient while they are in the hospital. Unlike a visitor or a paid support worker, they provide emotional, cognitive and/or physical care to their loved ones and function as a care team member. They are often family or close friends who know the patient’s health history, lifestyle and personal values.
Having a familiar person available to patients who can provide different types of support can help improve their health outcomes. Some of the ways ECPs participate in patient care include:
A visitor is someone who has an existing relationship with a patient but has not been identified as the patient’s Essential Care Partner. The intent of their visit is most often social in nature and not part of the patient’s healthcare. They have not provided an ongoing commitment of their time to support the patient during their stay, and their time at the hospital is typically brief.
An Essential Care Partner is a pre-approved person (often a loved one or someone familiar to the patient) who has been deemed essential to the well-being of the patient and becomes part of the care team while the patient is in hospital. See more information.
Patients are eligible for an Essential Care Partner if they are admitted into an inpatient bed for longer than seven days or have preplanned surgeries. Patients in the Emergency Department are not eligible to have an ECP, but may be eligible to bring a Support Person with them.
Some examples where an ECP is helpful:
If you or a loved one is eligible for having or becoming an Essential Care Partner, talk to your/your loved ones’ care team about the program to see if it can be a good fit and for details on applying. Essential Care Partners are not always required, and not every patient will want or need one.
Essential Care Partners will need to complete all training and orientation before joining the care team.