They are heralding it as a first in Canada – the province of Saskatchewan is adopting an ‘open family policy’ which will allow 24-hour access for family visitors to patients in hospitals or special care homes.
Not everyone is on side with this idea – some are voicing their concerns about the potential disruption of allowing visitors 24 hours a day.
A woman named Sheila called into MainStreet on News Talk Radio to describe her experience in a Regina hospital last December. Her mother was quite ill and the person in the next bed had a huge group of noisy visitors.
“There was just chaos all night,” she explained. “There were people fighting in there, and no matter how much we complained, it wasn’t dealt with properly.”
She calls the situation in her mother’s room “mortifying “.
“I was terrified for my mother,” she said. “We were told there was nothing they could do because it wasn’t regulated how many people could come into the room.”
Another former patient named Allan called in to express concern about the impact of all night visitors for anyone trying to recover in hospital.
“If I’m sleeping then I want quiet in the hospital,” he said.
The regulations for night visitors are supposed to require a ‘reasonable’ number of people in a room and the agreement of other patients and families about allowing visitors late at night.
The Sunrise Health District on the east side of the province has been the pilot location for allowing 24-hour visitors.
Carolee Zorn, the manager of obstetrics and the emergency room in the Yorkton Regional Health Centre, said the policy has worked well in her hospital.
She also added that if the patient does not want to have visitors, the hospital staff will support them.
“We always have to have agreement from everyone in the room that people – if they are going to sit through the night – that everyone in the room is okay with that,” Zorn explained
She also added that allowing late night visitors can be a very positive step for patients and their families, especially when relatives must come from a distance away.
“Sometimes they would get here at 10:00 at night and we wouldn’t let them in,” Zorn said, describing situations before the 24-hour visiting policy.
The new visitors’ policy is supposed to be in effect province-wide by the end of the year.