Designated Support Person (DSP) Program

  • Designated Support Persons (DSPs) are individuals who are identified to provide support to patients.  DSPs are essential partners in care and can be direct family members, friends, relatives, or caregivers as identified by the patient.
  • Support is defined by each patient and can include emotional comfort, physical assistance, help with decision making, care planning, communication, or discharge planning; etc. 
  • DSPs are welcomed 24 hours a day according to patient preferences AND in coordination with the patient care team.

To learn more about the program, click on a question below.

  • A DSP is an active partner in care and an essential member of the health care team who can provide personalized physical and emotional support, help with decision making, care planning, communication and discharge as deemed important by the 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. A social visitor is not essential to the patient’s care and does not contribute to care both emotional and physical, providing health information or decision making. A social visitor must visit during Horizon’s  social visiting hours.
  • Patients can identify / designate a maximum of two DSPs with two DSPs permitted at the bedside at one time. Some patients such as those in long-term care or palliative can have more than two DSPs, please see the Visitor Guidelines at Hospitals and Health Care Facilities page for further information.
  • DSPs must be approved by the health care team and be 18 years of age or older.
  • A DSP is required to complete infection and prevention control education to keep patients, health care staff and themselves safe while in the facility.
  • A DSP is not required to adhere to the 6-foot physical distancing guidelines when supporting their loved one.
  • A DSP is not limited to social 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.
  • DSPs are permitted entry to Horizon facilities during outbreak situations.

DSPs and social visitors are no longer required to show proof of vaccination. Horizon strongly urges all visitors and DSPs to be up to date on their vaccinations. You are up to date if you have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including any booster dose(s) when eligible, in accordance with New Brunswick Public Health’s vaccination schedule for COVID-19. Vaccines have been proven to reduce the incidents of severe illness, hospitalization or death.


To balance the benefit between patient care and the risk of respiratory illness such as COVID-19, the overall number of DSPs permitted and number of DSPs who can be present at one time varies depending on the patient’s condition and respiratory illness activity levels within the hospital and community.  Please see Horizon’s current visitor guidelines for the current number of allowable DSPs and social visitors.

  1. The patient who requires a DSP or their substitute decision maker (SDM) will identify a maximum of two potential DSPs. Please note: Potential DSPs, including interested family members, must first speak with the nurse manager or delegate of the patient’s unit, at which point they will be provided with the DSP Overview package including information of how to complete the required education program. Alternatively, potential DSPs may email us or call 1-833-625-1653 (toll free).
  2. DSPs will be required to complete online education about Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidelines 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 by appointment).
  3. Once the education is complete, DSPs must be approved by the unit’s nurse manager or designate. DSPs will be required to show their confirmation email indicating they have completed their online education to the nurse manager or designate.
  4. DSPs will self screen when entering the hospital and must pass the screening criteria before they can enter.
  5. DSPs must follow IPC and unit-specific rules such as practicing consistent hand hygiene,  maintaining distance from other patients, staff, and DSPs/social visitors, and wearing a face mask when required.
  6. DSPs must limit their movement in the facility to the patient’s room and cannot eat or drink in the patient’s room.

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. Please note, you must be approved as a DSP even if you have completed the online training.  To obtain approval to become a DSP, please email, call 1-833-625-1653, or speak to a member of the direct health care team.