Essential Care Partners

Essential Care Partners are an important part of the team.

Who is an essential care partner?

Caregiver with patient

An Essential Care Partner (ECP) is a support person whose presence is considered essential to the safety and well-being of a patient while they are in the hospital. Most often, they are family or close friends of the patient who typically know the patient’s health history, lifestyle and personal values.

How is an ECP different from a visitor?

Visitors are people who come to the hospital to have a social visit with a patient. 

An ECP is chosen by the patient or their Substitute Decision Maker (SDM). An ECP provides essential care and support to the patient while they are in the hospital.

What can an ECP do?

There are many ways an ECP can help their loved one. Some examples could include:

  • helping them eat, move around, bathe
  • helping them communicate with staff
  • providing emotional and cognitive support
  • advocating for them and supporting their decision making
  • Being part of planning their care while in the hospital and once they are discharged

Is an ECP permitted in all cases?

As much as possible, every patient who wants an ECP should have access to one. However, there are certain instances and areas where ECPs may not be permitted for safety reasons.

As a patient, how can I request an ECP?

Senior man with caregiver

Patients can request an ECP before or after being admitted to the hospital. Please let your health-care team know you would like one and they can tell you the next steps.

Is there special training?

Yes, click here to complete the online educational module.

Where can I find more information?

Read here for more information about the ECP program.

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.

How can I 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 the training you receive before coming in
  3. perform multiple tasks in one visit

This guide was created by patients and staff at The Ottawa Hospital to support ECPs.
Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe.