No 24/7 visiting hours in Alberta, yet, says AHS

There is no plan to introduce 24/7 visitation at Alberta hospitals, though pressure from organizations such as CFHI continues to mount.

There is no plan at present to introduce 24/7 visitation at Alberta hospitals, though pressure from organizations like the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) continues to mount.

According to Aric Johnson, a spokesperson with Alberta Health Services (AHS), it’s a program AHS is reviewing at this time.

Though hospital visiting hours have become much less restricted in the past decades, Alberta hospitals don’t allow patient guests after certain hours, according to AHS.

The restriction on family visiting hours lengthens recovery time, suggests CFHI.

Allowing family members to spend more time with a patient leads to fewer medication errors, fewer falls, better-informed medical assessments, shorter hospital stays and more effective healthcare planning, the CFHI said in a statement.

Having family present can mean an extra set of ears listening to medication instruction, a quick catch during a fall, and patient happiness.

“Overall this is really good for the patient, the family member and it’s also really good for the healthcare system,” Stephen Samis, vice-president of programs at CFHI, said. He added that designated family members can be extremely helpful advocates for the patient, especially when direct communication is difficult.

“They are the ears and the voice and the eyes of the patient when the patient is at their most vulnerable point,” he noted.

Right now, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have adopted the 24/7 visiting hours for family, and some hospitals in other provinces throughout Canada have started trial programs.

CFHI senior director Maria Judd says a 24/7 visitation program in an effective way to “welcome patients and family as partners in care.”

Feedback about the visitation program where it has been implemented has been overwhelmingly positive.

Concerns about safety and the spread of infection has been managed by implementing visitation policies, and there has been no increase in infection at the hospitals running the program, Judd said.