Back to Top Essential Care partners during COVID-19 - The Ottawa Hospital


Important information for Essential Care Partners during the COVID -19 pandemic

Essential Care Partners (ECPs) must take special precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you are new to the ECP program, please read the patient and family guide to Essential Care Partners  before continuing.

Fewer people in the building means we are all safer

During a pandemic, The Ottawa Hospital must limit how many people enter the building and how long they stay there.  These actions help to make sure that there is enough space for everyone to practice physical distancing and help lower the chances that COVID-19 will spread to patients, ECPs and staff.

How many ECPs come to the hospital and for how long depends on several factors:

  1. the level of restriction in the community
  2. the level of visitor restriction at The Ottawa Hospital
  3. how much personal protective equipment (PPE) the hospital has
  4. the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in the community and in the hospital
  5. how the layout of patient areas, units and other parts of the hospital may affect every person’s ability to practice physical distancing
  6. patient safety
  7. other safety issues

Hospital care teams will work with patients families and ECPs regarding visits for exceptional circumstances (such as end-of-life care) on a compassionate and equitable basis.

ECPs and social visitors

During low visitor restrictions, patients can identify up to two social visitors in addition to up to two ECPs. However, we ask that a maximum of one social visitor and one ECP visit a patient per day.

The ECP will take priority if the room can not accommodate physical distancing.

How to request an ECP during the COVID-19 pandemic

Note: Only a patient or their Substitute decision maker can request an ECP.

  1. When a loved on is admitted to The Ottawa Hospital, or before when possible, they or their Substitute Decision Maker lets the health-care team know who they would like as their ECP while in hospital.
  2. The clinical manager or a delegated member of the health-care team carefully assesses each ECP request. They will ask a few questions and work with the patient and the potential ECP to come up with the safest overall plan.
  3. After admission, the health-care team/clerk and unit manager registers the person(s) as an ECP.

Use technology when possible to connect with a loved one

Technologies like Zoom or Facetime can be safe and effective ways for ECPs to provide cognitive and emotional support to their loved one.  ECPs should talk to the care team about setting up a virtual visit.

ECPs play an important role in stopping the spread of COVID-19

ECPs can not come to The Ottawa Hospital if they have (or someone they have had close contact with has)

  • travelled outside of Canada within the past 14 days, or
  • a fever, new or worsening cough, or any other symptoms of respiratory or other illness, or
  •  tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test

In those cases, ECPs must inform the unit manager or other person in charge so that the hospital can perform contact tracing.

ECPs must also:

  • self screen for symptoms of COVID-19 and other illnesses the day before or morning of each visit
  • complete screening for symptoms of COVID-19 and other illnesses by hospital staff at the hospital entrance
  • agree to follow all Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) practices. Some examples could include, but are not limited to:
    • completing IPAC online training. If there are barriers to completing the online training, ECPs can access printed material or receive direct teaching from IPAC staff
    • washing hands frequently as trained
    • staying at the patient’s bedside and not walking around the hospital
    • asking staff how to disinfect phones, tablets and essential items brought on the unit
    • properly wearing a mask
    • following instructions from people in the health-care team and on the unit
    • accepting education and coaching from the health-care team, and
    • following public health guidelines in the community such as limiting contacts, wearing a mask and physical distancing

Make in-person visits as safe as possible

ECPs who come to the hospital in person should

  1. plan each visit carefully, keeping safety in mind.
  2. review IPAC online training before coming
  3. perform multiple tasks in one visit

If there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the community or in the hospital

The hospital staff will tell the ECP about what changes are needed to keep everyone safe. We may ask ECPs to visit less often or shorten the length of visits. In some cases, visits may not be possible.

This guide was created by patients and staff at The Ottawa Hospital to support ECPs during the pandemic.

Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe.


Last updated on: November 2nd, 2023