Every day, Albertans trust us to care for them and ensure they are looked after while they are in our hospitals and health care facilities.
Patient care is at the forefront of everything we do. This extends to ensuring our patients and clients are safe and protected from anything that may negatively impact their care and well-being.
We understand the importance of loved ones being able to visit friends and family members in hospital.
In fact, in almost all cases, we encourage it – it is often in the best interests of the patient to be near those closest to them, during what is almost always a stressful and challenging time.
Our priority is always the patient. Unfortunately, on very rare occasions, we have to take steps to protect the patient, and that may mean preventing a visitor from visiting a health care site.
In all cases, we do our best to work with the visitor, to address any issues. This includes protecting patients and clients from unacceptable behaviors such as verbal or physical abuse, violence or aggressive behavior, interference with care or any other type of inappropriate behavior.
We have established guidelines to facilitate the involvement of families in patient and family-centred care. These guidelines protect patients, staff, visitors and the public by providing the right to privacy and confidentiality as well as the right to be cared for, visit, and work in a safe environment.
We also already have processes in place that provide recourse for visitors who may have been prevented from visiting loved ones.
In most cases, visitors who are negatively impacting patients or clients care can participate in the development of and sign a behavior agreement, which would then allow visits to proceed provided the visitor adheres to that agreement.
In such cases, the individual or individuals involved would need to agree to meet expectations of all visitors, including following the visiting rules of the facility, behaving appropriately with clients, patients and staff, and not disrupting client or patient care. Visitors who are legally prohibited from contacting a patient will not be permitted to visit.
Care teams will also work with visitors to ensure they understand the rules around visiting clients and patients. Our Patient Relations department is also available if family members or visitors have concerns.
And, a concern can be raised with the Ombudsman.
Unacceptable behaviours on the part of visitors such as verbal abuse, physical abuse, violence, or interference with the care of a patient or client cannot be tolerated. If necessary, security measures will be taken and may include: visiting restrictions, visiting prohibition, and/or legal action.
We must also ensure that we protect our staff from abuse. It is not appropriate for someone to be abusive or threatening to our health care workers, and we may ask someone to leave a facility if that happens.
Fortunately, the vast majority of our visitors are respectful, and play an important role in helping a loved one get well.