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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.

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.

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 (the patient will need to have a Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) value of 60 per cent or less, the patient's time to death is within three months, based on a clinical prognostic, and the patient is not likely to be discharged home)
  • Obstetrics (Labour and Delivery, Postpartum)
  • Neonatal
  • Medically Assisted Death
  • Intensive Care/Critical Care Units
  • Pediatrics/Pediatric Psychiatry
  • Patients who have been in hospital for 14 days or longer
  • Patients with intellectual / communication impairments (cognitive impairment leading to agitation and inability to console; communication impairment which affects care)

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.

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 Horizon@horizonnb.ca 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 DSP Education Instructions handout.

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