In this section :

Resources for Healthcare Providers and Leaders

Essential Care Partners    are different from   General Visitors      Essential Care Partners (ECPs):   Are identified and designated by patients   Support throughout the care journey   Play a significant role in patient safety by providing physical, psychological and emotional support   Help their loved ones with decision-making, care coordination and continuity of care      ECPs can be family members, close friends, caregivers or any person identified by the patient   General Visitors have an important role but do not participate as active partners in care.

MYTH   The presence of Essential Care Partners is nice to have, but doesn’t impact quality or safety   FACT   Having Essential Care Partners present recognizes the mutually beneficial partnership between patients, families and healthcare providers

The presence of Essential Care Partners benefits patient safety, experience of care and outcomes, such as3:

  • Helping to prevent falls
  • Improving the accuracy and quality of shared information, such as their loved one’s medical history
  • Improving medication safety and recognizing medication errors
  • Identifying health risks and changes in condition (e.g. pressure ulcers, cognitive function)
  • Providing comfort, which contributes to reducing loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety and improvement in overall mental health
  • Reducing healthcare provider stress, moral distress and burnout while increasing the level of person-centred care necessary for patient safety and well-being

“We know so much now that its hard for me to imagine we thought our only option was to CANCEL family presence in our hospital….when your heart and your soul tell you something isn’t right about what you’re doing – listen closely to that voice and find the helpers.” Janice Kaffer, CEO, Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital

“I wonder what the outcome would have been if this incident occurred in April 2020, when I was considered “non-essential” to my son.”   Pamela, Mother and Essential Care Partner, Congregate Care Setting

Bringing Evidence to Life and Busting Myths through Stories

Hear first hand from Essential Care Partners and healthcare professionals the difference ECPs make as they tell their stories that bring evidence to life and bust some common myths (Bringing Evidence to Life and Busting Myths through Stories)

Photo of a patient and their essential care partner

The Essential Together Pledge

Organizational leaders are invited to Take the Essential Together Pledge to show your organization recognizes and values the role of Essential Care Partners and is committed to working together with those who are receiving care, caregivers and staff to develop and implement policies that support patient and caregiver partnership in care.

Take the Pledge

A graphic describing the steps of the Essential Together Learning Bundles.  Section 1 Identifying and Preparing Essential Care Partners (ECPs); 1 Develop mutual expectations of responsibilities; 2 Establish pre-entry preparation for ECPs; 3 Establish staff education to understand roles and safety protocols for ECPs; 4 Establish a rapid appeals process.  Section 2: Supporting ECPs as they enter health and care facilities; 5 Establish a clearly communicated screening process; 6 Establish caregiver IDs for ECPs; 7 Ensure ECPs are informed about existing and updated infection prevention and control protocols

Find out how to welcome and safely reintegrate Essential Care Partners. Visit our Essential Together Learning Bundles

Learn more about the Essential Together Program, pan-Canadian Huddles, the Pledge and the Learning Bundles.

Essential Together Tools and Resources for health and care and leaders


1 Farmanova, Elina, Maria Judd, Christine Maika, and Graeme Wilkes. “Much More Than Just a Visit: A Review of Visiting Policies in Select Canadian Acute Care Hospitals.” Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (2016). 
2 Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. “Policy Guidance for the Reintegration of Caregivers as Essential Care Partners.”(2020). 
3 Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. Evidence Brief: Caregivers as Essential Care Partners. (2020). Retrieved from Evidence Brief: Caregivers as Essential Care Partners