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Designated Support Person

What is a Designated Support Person (DSP)? 

A DSP is an active partner in care and an essential member of the health care team who can provide personalized physical, psychological and emotional support, as deemed important by the eligible patient. The DSP contributes to a positive patient experience and outcome.  

A DSP is an individual the patient wants involved in their care and can include family members, close friends or other caregivers and are identified/designated by the patient or substitute decision maker (SDM).

A DSP is different from a social visitor and is often a family member or close friend who has knowledge about the patient's health history, lifestyle and personal values.

Eligible patients can identify / designate a maximum of two DSPs, but only one DSP is permitted by their bedside at one time.

A DSP must be 18 years of age or older. If the DSP is from outside the Atlantic provinces and the Avignon and Témiscouata counties and Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, Horizon's COVID-19 Visitor Guidelines at Hospitals and Health Care Facilities must be followed.

A DSP is required to complete DSP education.

A DSP is not required to adhere to the 6-foot physical distancing guidelines when visiting their loved one.

A DSP is not limited to visiting hours applicable for general/social visits. The hours, frequency and support the DSP will provide to the patient will be determined in collaboration with the patient, the DSP and members of the health care team.

A DSP is not a social visitor. A social visitor must adhere to Horizon's current social visitor and physical distancing guidelines and can only visit in the Yellow phase of the pandemic.

A DSP is permitted entry to Horizon facilities during the Yellow, Orange and Red Phases of the pandemic.

 DSPs must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to visit eligible inpatients and to accompany patients to outpatient appointments and in the Emergency Department in all Horizon hospitals and/or health care facilities.

This measure is required for the safety of our vulnerable patients/clients, employees, and physicians.

DSPs will be asked to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination along with government issued ID to the screeners upon entry to all Horizon hospitals and health care facilities. 

Patients eligible for the DSP program are asked to appoint a fully vaccinated DSP.

There are limited exceptions to the vaccine requirement for urgent or essential reasons including emergency and critical care, end of life and support/care for children under 16 years of age. In these exceptional circumstances a negative COVID-19 PCR test completed within 72 hours is required. Please speak to your health care team regarding these limited exceptions.

Who can have a DSP?

We recognize the importance of family presence to our hospitalized patients. To balance this integral part of a patient's healing process while safely providing care by limiting the number of people in our facilities due to COVID-19, DSP eligibility will be based on a patient's individual health care needs and overall length of hospital stay.

The following patient populations are eligible for a DSP:

  • End of Life - Palliative Care
  • Obstetrics (Labour and Delivery, Postpartum)
  • Neonatal
  • Intensive Care/Critical Care Units
  • Pediatrics
  • Patients who have been in hospital for 14 days or longer
  • Patients with cognitive / communication impairments (cognitive impairment leading to agitation and inability to console; communication impairment which affects care)

If you do not meet the above criteria, please contact the manager of the nursing unit. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How do I become a DSP?

1. The eligible patient or SDM will identify a maximum of two potential DSPs. Please note: Potential DSPs, including interested family members, must first speak with the nurse manager of the patient's unit, at which point they will be provided with the DSP Overview package and links to the DSP online education program.

2. DSPs will be required to complete online education about Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) rules to help keep them, their loved one and health care workers safe. (If there are problems completing the online training, DSPs can receive training within the hospital).

3. Once the education is complete, DSPs must contact the unit's Nurse Manager to discuss the Care / Visitation Plan. DSPs will be required to show their confirmation email indicating they have completed their online education to the Nurse Manager to formalize the Care / Visitation Plan for the patient's chart.

4. DSPs will be screened when entering the hospital and must pass the screening criteria before they can enter and provide contact information for contract tracing purposes.

5. DSPs must follow IPC and unit-specific rules such as wearing a Horizon-provided medical grade face mask, maintaining a 6-foot distance from other patients, staff and visitors, and practicing consistent hand hygiene.

6. DSPs must follow Public Health directives when outside of the hospital.

If you have questions about the DSP program, please email or call the toll-free number 1-833-625-1653.

To access the DSP online education, click on the link below and enter the 4-digit passcode provided to you via email or in the Designated Support Person Overview.

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