Designated Family/Support Person & Visitor Access

Who Are Designated Family/Support Persons & Visitors | Virtual Visitation | What to Know Before You Arrive | Masking | Access Exemptions | Additional Information

Last Updated: July 29, 2022

AHS has eased COVID-19 access restrictions for designated family/support persons and visitors of patients and residents. However, precautions such as continuous masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene are still necessary to protect patients, staff and services. To reduce the risk of transmission, we encourage maintaining contact through virtual visitation whenever possible.

Please help us keep sites safe for patients/residents and staff by following all precautions as directed by staff. Do not come to a site to visit or support a patient if you are feeling unwell.

Important Note

Due to factors such as the vulnerability of patients, or space constraints, some healthcare sites may continue to impose access limits. If you plan to come to site to see a patient, please speak with the site or patient’s care team to find out if certain access limits are in place.

Who Are Designated Support Persons & Visitors

Who are designated family/support persons?

Designated family/support person(s) are one or more individuals identified by the patient as an essential support, and who the patient wishes to be included in any encounters with the health care system, including, but not limited to, family, relatives, friends, and informal or hired caregivers. In the event of limited access, priority is given to designated family/support persons as needed partners in care.

Consider the following when selecting a designated family/support person:

Who are visitors?

A visitor is an individual who temporarily supports or socializes with the patient. They are not an essential partner in care planning and/or decision-making, but may be involved at the patient’s request.

Virtual Visitation

Technology provides us with great ways to stay in touch, and many virtual visitation options are available. Consider keeping in touch virtually rather than in person.

If you are feeling unwell, please stay home. Care teams will help you stay connected to your loved ones virtually. For more information, refer to our virtual visitation tools and resources.

What to Know Before You Arrive

If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness, including COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, you are recommended to isolate and cannot enter a health care facility unless you qualify for an exemption, or are seeking medical care for yourself.

If you know you have been in contact with a COVID-positive individual, or someone with COVID-19 symptoms, you should wait several days before coming to a healthcare site to support or visit a patient in case symptoms do arise.

The best way to determine if you should come to a site (or delay your visit) is to ask yourself the three questions in the COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire beforehand.

Additionally, please remember that all designated family/support persons and visitors must:

  • Practice continuous masking and follow all precautions as directed by staff.
  • Perform hand hygiene when entering and exiting the site, after using a washroom, and when entering or exiting the patient/resident’s room.
  • Physically distance from anyone not from their household while at the site. This may limit the number of people who can be in an area (for example, at a patient's bedside) at one time.
  • Always wear support person/visitor ID.

Masking

Preventing the transmission of COVID-19 is everyone’s responsibility. All designated family/support persons and visitors entering an AHS site shall be asked to perform hand hygiene, will be provided with a mask, and informed of the requirement for continuous masking. For more information see the Use of Masks During COVID-19 Directive.

N95 & KN95 Masks

Designated family/support persons and visitors may wear their own N95 or KN95 respirator when entering an AHS facility if it is clean, in good condition and does not have a valve. Masks with a valve are not intended for use in health care settings, as they allow the wearer’s exhaled droplets to escape. If you are wearing a mask with a valve, you will be required to change to an AHS mask. Anyone wearing their own N95 or KN95 are strongly recommended to follow the steps outlined in General Instructions for Putting on an N95 Respirator Mask or How to do a Seal Check for Disposable KN95 Respirators.

Access Exemptions

Designated family/support persons and visitors qualifying for an exemption must follow all access requirements as directed by AHS staff including screening, continuous masking, hand hygiene, physical distancing and going directly to the service area and exiting the facility immediately after their visit.

Failure to follow direction from AHS staff will result in being required to leave the site. Screeners must notify service areas once an exempt designated family/support person arrives.

Exemptions:

  1. Compassionate Exemptions for COVID-19 Positive and Symptomatic DFSPs/visitors to Visit a Patient/Resident who is at end-of-life – Designated family/support persons and visitors who are COVID-19 positive and/or symptomatic may visit a patient/resident who is at end-of-life. These individuals must make an appointment with the service area in advance of their arrival and agree to follow all precautions as directed by AHS staff.
  2. COVID Positive and Symptomatic DFSPs of minor children or adult dependents that require medical care – a designated family/support person who is COVID-19 positive and/or symptomatic may access AHS sites for the purposes of procuring needed medical care for minor children or an adult dependent.
  3. Government of Canada - Limited Release from Federal Quarantine For International Travellers to Visit/Support a Critically Ill or End-of-Life Patient - Access may be granted to international travellers who have a valid Government of Canada and AHS authorized Limited Release from Quarantine for the purposes of supporting or visiting a critically ill or end-of-life patient. This exemption requires completion of an application process available on the AHS website.

Additional Information

Indigenous Wellness: AHS acknowledges the significance and importance of traditional Indigenous practices and protocols and promotes the involvement of AHS cultural helpers, traditional wellness counsellors, Indigenous health and hospital liaisons or designated community health representatives where possible.

Patient Belongings, Gifts, Food and Flowers: Prior to bringing outside items to the site, check with the service area to confirm what is appropriate and how to bring items in safely. Delivery services cannot bring items inside to patients.

Outdoor Visitation in Acute Care: The suitability of outdoor visitation is to be collaboratively determined between the patient/resident, their designated family/support persons and the care team. Due to the risk of transmission, outdoor visits for COVID-19 positive or suspected patients cannot be accommodated.

Patient Passes: The suitability of an offsite patient/resident pass is to be collaboratively determined between the patient/resident, their designated family/support persons and the care team. Due to the risk of transmission, passes for COVID-19 positive or suspected patients/residents cannot be accommodated. Additionally, patients/residents who will be returning to a site may have to undergo quarantine and/or isolation upon return if they have been exposed while out on pass or become symptomatic.