Caregivers can face challenges and obstacles while trying to care for their loved ones, becoming a recognized member of the health care team as an Essential Caregiver can help make a difference by linking the hospital and the community resources available, engaging and learning to effectively communicate with health team members through the education and the training provided. Essential Caregivers can not only improve the care of the patient but can help to reduce the risk of preventable harm.

An Essential Care Giver is an essential person who is selected by the patient and cares for them providing comfort, social and cultural interaction, emotional and physical support, as well as speaking on behalf of the patient when he/she cannot speak.

An Essential Care Giver is not a casual visitor, but rather someone who is chosen by the patient or their Substitute Decision Maker.  The Essential Caregiver comes to the hospital to assist with the daily changing care of the patient.  The Essential Caregiver may be allowed access to the hospital in periods of heightened restriction, when casual visitors may be prohibited. 

Essential Caregivers may be a parent, a spouse or a child (at least 16 years of age) or a significant other who can provide a meaningful connection.  An appointed guardian, a cultural or community member or a translator may also become an essential

If you’re caring for someone and you need support or have care questions, call the 24/7 Ontario Caregiver Helpline: 1-833-416-2273 or visit   

Caregiver.  Every situation is unique to the patient’s current condition.


This tool helps serve to define the role of the essential caregiver and provide them and the care team important information on how they can be safely integrated as a member of the team.

The handbook includes information on proper Personal Protective Equipment, Hand Hygiene Compliance, Self Screening Tools and an overview of the role.

Caregiver ID – Guide (PDF)

The Healthcare Journey Binder was created by caregivers and healthcare providers to help improve the overall healthcare experience for people with an illness, disease, or medical condition. It can be used by anyone, including caregivers, to manage important healthcare information by:

  • Having a place where documents and information can be kept in one place
  • Making it easy to organize and find health information
  • Allowing you to easily share any information with the healthcare team
  • Helping to give you a sense of control

Caregiver Healthcare Journey Binder

A policy to support the role of the Essential Caregivers is recommended. 

Caregiver ID Policy

This serves to demonstrate the overall process of interacting with essential caregivers and highlights important process steps. Please use this as a guide and customize it to your specific needs based on an approach that works best for you and your team.

Process Flow Chart

This tool is used by clinical care teams to help identify, formally document, the specific care needs of the patient.

Form Patient Care Needs – Essential Caregiver Program 

The purpose of these surveys are to help us better understand experiences of healthcare provider’s interaction with essential caregivers.

These surveys are created for both caregivers and the healthcare team so that we can work together to provide outstanding support, effective communication, new skills and education creating a positive engagement to improve the experience of Care Partners and Healthcare Providers.

Communicating the project with your team members is important.  Be sure to take the time to inform them of the role that the caregiver will play and any changes to processes associated with bringing them on.

Learn about the value of the family caregiver role and how to engage and empower them as effective care partners in your practice.

Check your LMS profile for access to this learning or contact your leader to have it added to your learning library.

Essential Caregivers are recognized in their roles through visual cues such as a lanyard and ID badge.  This helps to assure patients and staff members that the Essential Caregivers have been provided with additional information to ensure they are safely integrated into their role. 

The lanyards and badges empower caregivers and serve to acknowledge their contributions. If you would like to request lanyards and badges for use within your organization, please reach out to