"We really start from the premise that in many ways it's the patients right to have someone with them, and we believe that it really improves the care," Walton says. "Family presence is certainly a comfort measure, but it's definitely about patient safety and quality of care."
For example, Walton says a family presence keeps patients safer during handoffs because someone who intimately knows the patient has been monitoring and observing him or her.
"We see them through the clinical lens," Walton says. "A family member knows them in a different way."
Walton says that HUP is always developing programs to make patients and families feel cared for and comforted. For instance, HUP sponsors coffee hours for families in the patient education center and is developing a place where family members can take a shower. And many of these programs are developed and/or led by nurses.
"It's trying to view the experience from the patient/family perspective," Walton says. "Everyone is vulnerable when they're sick, when they're in pain, or in major health crisis—not just children."