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Essential Together Learning Bundles: Essential Care Partner Education

As part Essential Together, we’ve curated tools and resources from organizations across the country that support the reintegration of essential care partners.

This page is about supporting health and care facilities to work with patients and patient partners to develop supportive education for essential care partners related to infection control practices. It is part of the policy guidance to identify and prepare essential care partners.

Supportive education for essential care partners related to infection control practices includes the provision and use of personal protective equipment when necessary, hand hygiene and organization/unit-specific protocols and processes. This education needs to be flexible and respond to the differing levels of health literacy, cultural and language needs of caregivers as well as differing risk profiles of patients. It should be offered in various formats and at various times/frequency. An effective education program will reduce fear for both staff and essential care partners and provide a balanced approach for the safe re-entry of essential care partners.

(From page 12 of Policy Guidance for the Reintegration of Caregivers as Essential Care Partners)

These resources provide examples of training programs and materials for essential care partners to learn about personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control protocols as well as the specific organizational procedures. Some organizations provide in person training to essential care partners and others provide links to online training videos. Organizations may consider providing access to staff training modules on the use of PPE and IPAC protocols, where the completion of training can be tracked. It may be helpful to provide short refresher videos at each visit and training materials in a variety of formats.

Current resources

The tools and resources are open source, which means you can use and adapt them to fit your local context. We will continue to add to these learning bundles. If you would like to be notified when we have new material, please let us know.

Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services is a province-wide health system with a Designated Support Persons program. Their COVID-19 task force creates communication and resources to support the entire system, which covers multiple settings and patient groups. They have co-created material to ensure Designated Support People understand their risks when entering health and care facilities during the pandemic.

Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de Laval (CISSS de Laval)

The CISSS de Laval has established procedures for its long-term care homes (CHSLDs) to admit caregivers who had been regularly providing support to meet a loved one’s needs with safety measures in place that comply with all infection prevention and control directives. The CISSS de Laval web page for caregivers includes a training video.

Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare

Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare’s Coordinated Care Program enables Designated Care Partners (DCP) to provide specific aspects of the care plan as agreed by the patient and care team in a carefully planned and coordinated approach.

McGill University Health Centre

The McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Quebec has prepared a short video that reviews infection prevention and control measures that essential care partners watch at their first visit.

McMaster University

McMaster University Continuing Education has developed a short online course called Infection Prevention and Control for Caregivers and Families. The course is free and self-paced, meaning that you can complete it on your own time. It takes approximately five to six hours to complete all the course elements. If you are successful on the quizzes in the course, there is a printable certificate provided

SafeCare BC

SafeCare BC is a not for profit organization aimed at creating supports for those working in continuing care in British Columbia. Their online learning space includes a free course for essential care partners called COVID-19 Social Visitation Essentials and includes on COVID-19 and how to stay safe while in healthcare facilities.

The Ottawa Hospital

The Ottawa Hospital is a learning and research hospital in Ontario and affiliated with the University of Ottawa. The Ottawa Hospital has created online training materials for essential care partners.

If you know of other tools and resources to contribute to these learning bundles, or if there is something specific you are after, please send us an email via


We know there is different language and terminology used across the country, but to make sure we provide as much clarity as possible, in this context:

Blanket visitor restrictions refer to restrictions that extend to all “visitors” entering a facility, often without exceptions, including essential care partners.

Essential care partners provide physical, psychological and emotional support, as deemed important by the patient. This care can include support in decision making, care coordination and continuity of care. Essential care partners are identified by the patient (or substitute decision maker) and can include family members, close friends or other caregivers.

Patients includes residents and clients.

Patient partners include patients, residents, clients, families, caregivers and care partners, and others with lived experience who are working together with teams to improve the quality and safety of healthcare.

Health and care facilities refers to hospitals, long-term care/residential care/nursing homes and other congregate care settings as well as primary care and outpatient care settings.

Open family presence policies support the presence of essential care partners at patient bedside at any time and not restricted by “visiting hours.”