Hospital doing away with restricting visiting hours

March 25 – Every night at 8 p.m. in Guelph General Hospital (GGH) there’s an overhead announcement, “Visiting hours are now over.” This will soon be a thing of the past when on March 30 GGH joins a growing number of Canadian hospitals that are doing away with traditional, restricted visiting hours. Instead, there will be a flexible, patient and family-friendly approach.

“I am pleased to announce our new policy will allow 24-hour, patient-directed visitation by family members or care partners,” says Marianne Walker, President and CEO. “In basic terms, there will no longer be restrictions on visiting hours set by the Hospital.”

It’s a welcome change for a patient’s family and friends. Dennis Gonsalves has traveled far to visit his brother who is currently in GGH. For him, opening up of visiting hours is all about meeting the needs of both the patients and their loved ones.

“The people coming have busy lives and forcing them to come at a specific time is not good customer service,” Gonsalves says. “The hospital is here to serve the patient and his support system.”

The change not only makes it more convenient for visitors, says Eileen Bain, VP Patient Services and Chief Nursing Executive, but it is also about improving care.

“When we looked at the evidence, we found that family and friends are effective care partners and play an important role in a patient’s healing process. It has been proven that open or unrestricted visiting hours improves the patient experience, shortens hospital stays, improves communication with families and increases trust between patients, families and their health care providers,” explains Bain.

“The evidence also shows that patients are safer if their family members are by their side. It’s another set of eyes and ears that can ask questions, spot near misses or prevent falls. Often this simply comes down to the fact that families will always know more about the patient than the healthcare provider can gather in the limited timeframe of a hospital stay.”

Focusing on what exceptional care means to a patient while in hospital is what it is all about, says Walker.

“I asked staff, “if the patient was your mother, father or other family member, and you know that they needed your support or help with care, what would you do or want?” I believe this is a truly exciting change and will positively improve the lives of our patients and families. It is just another way for GGH to create an environment that is supportive of patient and family-centred care.”