No more visiting hours in Saskatchewan hospitals

If your loved one is in a Saskatchewan hospital or another health facility, there will soon be no such thing as "visiting hours".

Province to allow family members to visit patients 24/7

Saskatchewan's health minister said flexible visiting hours is an example of putting patients' needs first. (Shutterstock)

If your loved one is in a Saskatchewan hospital or other health facility, there will soon be no such thing as set visiting hours.

The provincial government said this will be the first province in the country to adopt what's called an open family presence policy.

It means family members can visit someone in a health care facility at any time of day, seven days a week. The patient will determine who is family.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the provincial health regions all agreed to the policy earlier this spring and are now working to implement it. He said the policy is a good example of what it means to put patients first.

"Nine to five visiting hours might not work for you, might not work for your life. So how can we, on our end, maybe do a little bit more work but make it better for you in the end?" he said.

Saskatchewan's health minister, Dustin Duncan, speaks to reporters at the Legislature on Wednesday. (Kirk Fraser)

Patient and family advisor, Serese Selanders, knows first-hand the difference this flexibility can make. Her father became ill and was admitted to a Saskatoon hospital not long after her mother was taken to a hospital in Regina.

"We had two very, very different experiences," she said.

In Regina, Selanders said things operated more traditionally.

"It was very strict visiting hours, you know from this time to that time. There were all these rules that you had to follow and when it was time for rounds you were kicked out as family and you were made to wait," she said.

 'We were allowed to stay with my dad when they were doing rounds.'- Patient and family advocate Serese Selanders

Selanders said she didn't even realize how different it could be, until she visited her dad in Saskatoon.

"They were very open and welcoming and we were allowed to stay with my dad when they were doing rounds," Selanders said, adding she felt like she was a part of the care team.

Selanders gets emotional when asked how she feels about Saskatchewan becoming the first province in the country to welcome family members when it is convenient for them, rather than the health facility.

"I can't change what happened to us and to our family," Selanders said. "But I know that this is going to impact patients and families — so many patients and families, and I'm so happy to say that we've done it."

The health ministry said there will still be some restrictions in the case of an illness outbreak, for instance. The ministry said the changes should be in effect provincewide by the end of the year.