Family presence during COVID-19 - Important information for support people/visitors

Updated: April 29, 2022

Please note, enhanced visitor restrictions remain in place at the following facilities where inpatients are not able to receive any visitors due to COVID-19 activity and/or staffing requirements:

Northern Zone

  • South Cumberland Community Care Centre, Parrsboro

For all other facilities:

Proof of vaccination is not required for patients seeking or receiving care or treatment. 

Given the increasing spread of COVID-19 in our communities, Nova Scotia Health is making changes to visitor restrictions across the province to further reduce the risk of the virus being introduced or spread within its facilities.

[Le français suit l’anglais]

Nova Scotia Health is gradually easing restrictions to allow more opportunities for family caregivers and primary support people to support patients.

Support people/visitors will still be required to show proof of vaccination when entering health care facilities.

Exceptions may be made for compassionate reasons such as emergency situations and end-of-life care, in discussion with the care team. In these circumstances, support people will be required to follow additional infection prevention and control measures to ensure the health and safety of our patients and our teams.

Proof of vaccination will not be required for those seeking or receiving care or treatment.

Effective March 7, support people/family caregivers are permitted for patients in the following situations:

Three designated support people at a time for:

  • palliative care and other patients nearing end of life*
  • patients receiving medical assistance in dying*

Two designated support people at a time for:

  • children and youth under 19 admitted to hospital**
  • patients in intensive care units and critically ill patients in emergency departments**
  • patients in labour and giving birth**

One designated support person at a time for:

  • children and youth under 19 in outpatient settings
  • hospital inpatients***
  • patients in emergency departments
  • prenatal visits, including ultrasounds
  • ambulatory care clinics, appointments or procedures

*Palliative patients and others nearing end-of-life may identify a maximum of five designated support people. Three of these five designated support people may visit each day and can visit at the same time where space permits.

**Children, patients in ICU, and critically ill patients in emergency departments and patients in labour and giving birth may identify up to three support people; only two will be permitted to visit at a time.

***Please note, hospital inpatients are asked to identify three support people per week. These three designated support people may visit each day, but only one will be permitted to visit at a time.

Procedures will vary by site and inpatient unit based on ability to manage and monitor the public health guidelines in place to protect the health and safety of patients, staff and visitors.

Nova Scotia Health will continue to closely monitor the situation and make changes when needed.

Santé Nouvelle-Écosse commencera à assouplir progressivement les restrictions afin de permettre aux proches aidants et aux principales personnes de soutien de soutenir les patients.

Les personnes de soutien et les visiteurs devront continuer à présenter une preuve de vaccination pour entrer dans les établissements de soins de santé.

Des exceptions peuvent être faites pour des raisons de compassion (comme les situations d'urgence et les soins de fin de vie) après discussion avec l'équipe de soins. Dans ces circonstances, les personnes de soutien devront suivre des mesures supplémentaires de prévention et de contrôle des infections afin de garantir la santé et la sécurité de nos patients et de nos équipes.

La preuve de vaccination ne sera pas exigée pour les personnes qui demandent ou reçoivent des soins ou un traitement.

À compter du 7 mars, la présence de personnes de soutien et de proches aidants est autorisée pour les patients dans les situations suivantes :

Trois personnes de soutien désignées à la fois pour :

  • les patients en soins palliatifs et autres patients en fin de vie*
  • les patients recevant une aide médicale à mourir*

Deux personnes de soutien désignées à la fois pour :

  • les enfants et les jeunes de moins de 19 ans admis à l'hôpital**
  • les patients des unités de soins intensifs et les patients gravement malades des services d'urgence**
  • les patientes en phase de travail et d’accouchement**

Une personne de soutien désignée à la fois pour :

  • les enfants et jeunes de moins de 19 ans en consultation externe
  • les patients hospitalisés***
  • les patients des services d'urgence
  • les patientes qui se présentent pour des visites prénatales, y compris les échographies
  • les patients qui se présentent pour des services de soins ambulatoires, des rendez-vous ou des interventions

* Les patients en soins palliatifs et les autres personnes en fin de vie peuvent désigner un maximum de cinq personnes de soutien. Trois de ces cinq personnes peuvent rendre visite chaque jour et peuvent rendre visite en même temps si l'espace le permet.

** Les enfants, les patients en soins intensifs, les patients gravement malades dans les services d'urgence et les patientes en phase de travail et d’accouchement peuvent désigner jusqu'à trois personnes de soutien; seules deux d'entre elles seront autorisées à leur rendre visite à la fois.

*** Veuillez noter que les patients hospitalisés sont invités à désigner trois personnes de soutien par semaine. Ces trois personnes peuvent leur rendre visite chaque jour, mais une seule sera autorisée à la fois.

Les interventions varieront selon le site et l'unité d'hospitalisation, en fonction de la capacité à gérer et à contrôler les directives de santé publique mises en place pour protéger la santé et la sécurité des patients, du personnel et des visiteurs.

Santé Nouvelle-Écosse continuera de surveiller de près la situation et d'apporter des changements au besoin.

Frequently asked questions

How many support people/visitors is an inpatient permitted?

For most hospital inpatients, only person is permitted to visit at a time. However, inpatients can identify up to three support people per week who can alternate and visit separately each day.
Palliative care and other patients nearing end of life including patients receiving medical assistance in dying may have three support people at a time. These patients may identify up to five people who can alternate.

Patients in intensive care units, as well as critically ill patients in the emergency department, labour and birth and children and youth under 19 admitted to hospital who are permitted to have two designated support people at a time.

Does my support person have to be vaccinated?

We ask that whenever possible all support people entering Nova Scotia Health facilities be fully vaccinated. There may be some exceptions in circumstances where a patient requires someone to be with them and their only option for support is an unvaccinated person. This includes children and youth under age 19, a patient in labour and delivery, or a substitute decision maker. Additional exceptions may be made for patients who are critically ill or nearing end-of-life. Please speak to the care team. If permitted, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated support will be required to follow additional infection prevention and control measures to ensure the health and safety of our patients and our teams.

I have an appointment/test/procedure, can I bring a support person with me?

Patients coming to hospital for cancer care, emergency, or ambulatory care clinics, appointments or produces are permitted to have one support person accompany them.

The support person should remain the same, even if they have multiple appointments.

Can I take a rapid test instead of being vaccinated?

No. Rapid testing is not being offered to support people in lieu of proof of vaccination.

What options are there for me to connect with my loved one?

Technology is available to allow virtual involvement of support people with patients in hospital. In cases where support people are not permitted, care teams will make every effort to support virtual visits. Please discuss this option with your loved one’s care team.

What can I expect when I arrive at a hospital to visit a patient or accompany a patient to an appointment?

All patients/visitors will be screened at the entrance. If they are an approved visitor/support person, they will be asked whether they have any COVID-19 symptoms, had contact with anyone who has COVID-19, or are waiting for COVID-19 test results for symptoms or potential exposure. If they answer yes to any of these questions, they will not be able to enter the hospital.

The approved visitor/support person will also be asked to clean their hands, wear a mask, and to follow safe physical distancing.

Procedures for showing proof of vaccination will vary by site and may be required at the entrance or at the patient’s care area.

Who decides who the patient’s visitor/support persons will be?

The patient, or patient’s substitute decision maker, will identify the designated support person(s).

Are appointments required for visiting a loved one?

Appointments are not required.

Are children permitted to visit a loved one?

The designated support person must be at least 16 years old. Some exceptions may be made for compassionate reasons.

Important information for family caregivers, primary support people

Visitor restrictions are in place at all Nova Scotia Health hospitals to protect our vulnerable patients and staff and limit the spread of COVID-19. We understand how difficult these restrictions are for patients and families and how important it is to have loved ones present while a patient is in the hospital.

The following measures will help ensure patient, staff and visitor safety. All primary support person/family caregivers must:

  • be feeling well at the date and time of the visit
  • be screened upon entry - anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or are supposed to be self-isolating will not be permitted to enter
  • show proof of vaccination (or a medical exemption letter) along with government-issued identification. Some exceptions will apply.
  • wear a mask covering their nose and mouth at all times. Some areas require medical masks.
  • maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet) from staff and others, except your loved one
  • wash their hands when entering and leaving the hospital and when entering and leaving the patient’s room
  • go directly to and from the patient’s room, or visit location, and remain there for the duration of the visit

Procedures may vary by site and inpatient unit. If you have questions or concerns please speak with the care team or contact Patient Relations at 1-844-884-4177.