Essential (designated) caregiver presence and general visiting

St. Joseph’s current Essential Caregiver Presence and Visitor policy has been created in partnership with patient and family partners and is aligned with government directives. Our visiting hours and processes have been updated to protect everyone from possible exposure to COVID-19 while balancing the well-being of our patients and residents.

The policy restricts general visiting across all of our facilities and allows for essential care givers*, in consultation with care teams to visit inpatients and residents, palliative care and actively dying patients and accompany outpatients as necessary.

Essential care giver presence will continue in line with provincial expectations during lockdown. To reduce the number of people in our buildings and minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19, essential givers are required to:

  • Follow the required number of essential caregivers as outlined in the chart below
  • Follow the full personal protection equipment, hand hygiene and physical distancing requirements;
  • Follow the current provincial requirement that travel outside of your home region is limited to essential travel only;
  • Explore with your loved one’s care team the opportunity for virtual visits as a way of reducing in-person visits.

Thank you for your continued support as we meet the needs of those we serve. 

Essential Caregiver Presence Guidelines 

Welcoming caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic Caregivers are important to the well-being and quality of life of our patients. As we are still in a pandemic, St. Joseph’s is gradually increasing caregiver presence within our buildings. We must also balance protecting everyone in our facilities from COVID-19.

We continue to limit the number of people in our sites. At this time, general visiting is not permitted. However, designated essential caregivers are welcome, based on direction from the patient/resident and care team.

Who qualifies as an essential caregiver

A caregiver is a person identified by the patient/resident as someone who provides important personal, social, psychological and physical support, assistance and care. A caregiver does not have to be living with the person they are supporting or related to the patient/resident. A caregiver must be at least 18 years of age. For information on caregivers under 18, please contact the care team directly.

Patients staying in hospital at St. Joseph’s can designate two individuals to be their essential caregivers.

To arrange a visit

Patients or designated caregivers can request visiting privileges through any member of the care team. The care team member will then take the request to their leader. Approval for visiting must be obtained in advance. How often and how long a visit can occur is decided in partnership with the care team.

What must caregiver do?

To keep everyone safe, caregivers must:

  • Pass screening for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 at the building entrance. Those who fail screening cannot enter the building.
  • Wear a mask while in the building, which will be provided at the screening entrance
  • Clean their hands with hand sanitizer before entering the building, a care area and patient room and when leaving those areas.
  • Remain physically distanced (6 feet) from others at all times.
  • Adhere to time restrictions for their visit as required.
  • Stay home if feeling unwell, have COVID-19 symptoms or exposure to someone who has COVID-19 and inform the patient/resident’s care team immediately if symptoms develop during or following a visit.

The safety and health of all patients/residents, staff and family caregivers at St. Joseph’s is paramount. Caregiver presence may be revoked as a result of ignoring or defying these requirements.

Visiting hours
  • Caregivers are welcome at any time of day in consultation with the patient/resident care team.
  • Quiet Hours are observed between 10 pm and 7 am. To promote rest and well-being of all patients/residents, everyone is requested to: speak in hushed tones, dim overhead lights and silence electronic devices.

Virtual visits

  • Virtual visits, which have been facilitated by staff throughout the pandemic, are on-going. Please contact your loved one’s care team for more information on virtual visits.

Caregivers for outpatients

Those accompanying outpatients attending a clinic appointment or the Urgent Care Centre will only be permitted to enter the building if deemed necessary based on the needs of the patient. Otherwise, caregivers will be asked to wait outside of the building.

As the pandemic evolves, St. Joseph’s will continually review our visiting processes and make changes to better accommodate our patients, residents, veterans and families as permitted. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

You can download a copy of the above Essential Caregiver Presence Guidelines (PDF)



Inpatients (excluding those in end-of-life or palliative care)

Patients staying in hospital at St. Joseph’s (Parkwood Institute, Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care and/or St. Joseph’s Hospital) may have visits from essential caregivers with certain restrictions. General visitors are not allowed at this time.


• Patients can designate two people as their essential caregivers.

• Visits must be pre-arranged with the care team. Patients or designated essential caregivers can request a visit through any member of the care team.

• How often and how long an essential caregiver can visit for must be decided with the care team.

• Quiet hours are from 10 pm to 7 am to promote a restful environment for patient/residents’ well-being.

• Caregivers must follow rules for health and safety at all times. Anyone who does not follow the rules will not be allowed to visit.


Download the Inpatient visit guidelines for further details.


End-of-life or palliative care patients

There is no limit to the number of essential caregivers for patients who are at the end-of-life or palliative care may designate. When caregivers may visit and how many at a time depends on the care area. Please speak with the care team for further details. All essential caregivers must pass screening for COVID-19 before entering the building and wear a mask when in the building.  


In special circumstances, patients who have an appointment or procedure booked at St. Joseph’s may be accompanied by one essential caregiver if they require support for:

• physical and/or emotional needs

• cognitive impairment, developmental or intellectual disability

• communication or language barrier

• cultural needs

• assessment/history that cannot be done with essential caregiver via virtual care or over the phone.

Please speak with your physician’s office or care team before your appointment to arrange for an essential caregiver to accompany you. Essential caregivers must pass screening at the entrance for COVID-19 before entering the building.


Please note: Due to some space challenges, clinic staff and physicians may request that ONLY PATIENTS be permitted to enter the clinic and/or exam room.

Veterans and long-term care residents

The Ministry of Long-Term Care has outlined a directive for visiting in long-term care. This directive applies to residents at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and St. Joseph’s Veterans Care Program. We are also closely following guidelines as part of the current status of our community determined by the Government of Ontario. 


For information about visiting a resident at Mount Hope please call 519-646-6100 extension 65173 to reach the Family Visiting Booking Hotline.


For information on visiting a Veteran at Parkwood Institute please contact the Veterans family line at 519-685-4292 extension 41405.


Virtual visits, can also be arranged by contacting the resident’s care team.

*An essential caregiver is a person identified and designated by the patient/resident – family member, friend, neighbour - who provides important personal, social, psychological and/or physical support, assistance and care, usually without pay, for people in need of support due to frailty, illness, degenerative disease, disability, or end of life circumstances. An essential caregiver does not have to be living with the person they are supporting. They do not have to be biologically related to the patient; can provide support and care for short periods of time (e.g., days) or for extended periods of time (e.g., years)