Designated Support Person (DSP) Program

Horizon’s Designated Support Person (DSP) Program provides a balanced approach for managing physical, psychological and emotional support to eligible patients from family or friends in a way that minimizes COVID-19 risk while maintaining a focus on patient and family centred care.

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, 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. A social visitor is not essential to the patient’s care and does not provide physical or emotional support to the patient. A social visitor does not contribute to care, providing health information or decision making. A social visitor must adhere to Horizon’s current social visitor and physical distancing guidelines
  • 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 and fully vaccinated. Limited exceptions apply.
  • A DSP is required to complete infection and prevention control education to keep patient, 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 g 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.
  • A DSP is permitted entry to Horizon facilities during all phases of the pandemic.

DSPs must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to support inpatients and to accompany patients to outpatient appointments and the Emergency Department in all Horizon hospitals and/or health care facilities.

This measure is required for the safety of our vulnerable patients/clients, employees, and physicians.

DSPs will be asked to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination along with government issued ID to the screeners upon entry to all Horizon hospitals and health care facilities.

Patients requiring a DSP are asked to appoint a fully vaccinated DSP.

There are limited exceptions to the vaccine requirement for urgent or essential reasons including emergency and critical care, end of life and support/care for children under 16 years of age. In these exceptional circumstances, a negative COVID-19 PCR test completed within 48 hours is required. Please speak to your health care team regarding these limited exceptions.

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.

Hospitalized patients who require physical or emotional support, assistance with decision making and care are eligible to have up to TWO designated support persons, with one supporting the patient at a time.

The number of DSPs for patients who are at end of life, supporting children and patient’s delivering a baby can vary. Please see the visitation guidelines for further information.

  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.
  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 contact the unit’s nurse manager or designate to discuss the Care / Support Plan. DSPs will be required to show their confirmation email indicating they have completed their online education to the nurse manager or designate to formalize the Care / Support 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 DSPs/social visitors, and practicing consistent hand hygiene.
  6. DSPs must limit their movement in the facility to the patient’s room and not 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 by the nurse manager or designate to complete the education. Only approved DSPs will be permitted entry.