In this section :

Essential Together Learning Bundles: Mutual Expectations

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 mutual expectations of responsibilities of staff, patients and essential care partners. It is part of the policy guidance to identify and prepare essential care partners.

Patients should be encouraged to identify their essential care partners. Once identified, a facility staff person (or people) who is designated as a point person for essential care partners ensures smooth and effective coordination of the essential care partner responsibilities, provides supportive education with information regarding infection prevention and control measures, and offers clear and consistent communication. In addition, the point person could liaise with staff to ensure they are aware of who the essential care partners are, highlight relevant policies and provide guidance in the case of any conflicts. Currently there is often no single source of information for essential care partner policies and practices, causing unnecessary confusion for patients, essential care partners and staff.

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

These resources provide examples of clear communication of mutual expectations and processes related to identification of essential care partners, as well as tools that can be used to formalize these expectations. Mutual expectations are often communicated clearly on websites; however, may also be reviewed during staff training and essential care partner orientation. 

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. Their COVID-19 task force creates communication and resources to support the entire system, which covers multiple settings and patient groups. Among their tools are co-designed pamphlets that describe the roles of Designated Support Persons.


Bruyère is an academic health centre with multiple sites including long-term care facilities in Ottawa, Ontario. Their Designated Carer Program welcomes essential care partners into their facilities and includes a pledge outlining their roles and responsibilities.

Grey County

Grey County operates three long-term care homes across Ontario. They introduced the Designated Care Partner (DCP) program which allows for the expansion of visitors for residents whose health and overall wellbeing would benefit from a DCP.

Perley & Rideau Veteran's Health Centre

Perley and Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre is a long-term care centre in Ontario. They have developed a program for designated caregivers including a process for designating your essential care partners.

Nova Scotia Health Authority

Nova Scotia Health Authority has prepared a toolkit and video for essential care partners on what to expect while being with a loved one in their facilities. This includes infection control guidance

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.”