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Hospital visitors welcome at all hours

Under new policy, Lakeridge Health open to visits from family, caregivers 24/7

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Lakeridge Health has put a new policy in place that will do away with standard visiting hours, allowing family members and caregivers to visit patients at any time of day.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Hospital visitors need no longer frantically rush to Lakeridge Health in order to make it in during visiting hours.

Lakeridge Health has implemented a new family presence policy, which means that visitors will no longer be restricted to what time of day it is when it comes to visiting friends and loved ones in hospital.

Under the new policy, family members and partners are able to visit patients at any point during the day. However, the hospital has designated 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. as a quiet time – so visitors must keep the noise down to ensure patients get some much needed shut eye.

Cathy Fiordalisi Smith, the hospital’s director of patient experience, tells The Oshawa Express that the change was made after an internal working group recognized the benefit of such a move.

“When we looked at the literature that’s out there on family presence, there are a lot of benefits to the patient in terms of outcomes, in terms of medication interference, reducing the number of falls, so there’s a lot of different things that were shown to be improved when the hospital practices allow for a family presence,” she says.

“That’s why we did it.”

One such study, published in the Journal of Healthcare Quality in 2013, looked at a New Jersey hospital that put a similar policy in place for an eight-month span in 2012. During that time, more than 14,000 people came into the hospital outside of previous visiting hours, with researchers noting a rise in satisfaction among patients and little to no effect on complaints coming from staff and visitors.

Fiordalisi Smith says the policy was already in place in some departments, but is now hospital wide.

“There are a lot of areas of our hospital that were doing this already – areas like pediatrics and a couple others – that were already allowing family members or partners in care to be around past visiting hours or before visiting hours started,” she says.

“So what we’re doing really is creating some consistency and declaring that Lakeridge Health embraces family presence.”