Loved ones play an invaluable role in the care of our patients. When visitor restrictions were put in place at Niagara Health to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone safe, we introduced the Essential Care Partners (ECP) program to ensure our patients would continue to benefit from the support of their loved ones while in the hospital.
“In four months, we’ve trained more than 1,600 ECPs to participate in their loved ones’ care,” says Lynn Guerriero, Niagara Health President and Interim CEO. “ECPs are important in the support and well-being of our patients, and we’re really pleased with the enthusiasm and positive feedback from our patients and families. We’re also mindful that the visitor restrictions are challenging for many, and we look forward to welcoming back visitors as soon as it is safe to do so."
The ECP program launched in January 2021 and is overseen by our Quality and Patient Partnership and Relations team. The program allows patients to designate up to two loved ones who can provide emotional, cognitive and/or physical care as part of their overall healthcare team. Different than a visitor, an ECP is someone who is considered essential to the safety and well-being of a patient while they are in the hospital. Support can include things like assisting in decision-making, helping patients with eating or other tasks and communicating with hospital staff and physicians when they notice changes in behaviour.
Patients are eligible for an ECP if they are admitted to an inpatient bed for longer than seven days or they have a preplanned surgery. ECPs complete a formal orientation process before being designated and follow all infection prevention and control guidelines while at the hospital. Some examples where an ECP would be beneficial include life-altering events, vulnerable patients who may be unable to communicate effectively or who are suffering from cognitive impairment and patients who require a caregiver to prevent physical hardship or support for transitions in care. Patients can designate and request an ECP by speaking with their care team.
“We have also worked with our partners at Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre who requested our support to implement the program there, which is terrific for patients and loved ones,” says Sonia Pagura, Director of Quality, Patient Safety and Risk. “Not only does HDS have its own program, but ECPs can transition seamlessly from Niagara Health to HDS, which is consistent with our goals of ensuring patient-centredness and enhanced health outcomes.”
As part of our commitment to patient- and family-centred care, there are other options available to support Niagara Health patients in exceptional circumstances. This includes inpatients, Emergency Department and Urgent Care Patients, and same-day patients. For more information on the ECP program and other options, please visit our website.