Vol 17, No 4 (2023)
Review paper
Published online: 2023-05-08

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Visitation policies at palliative care units and stationary hospices during COVID-19 pandemic: a literature review

Filip Lebiedziński1, Kacper Wilczkowski2, Jan Getek2, Leszek Pawłowski3
Palliat Med Pract 2023;17(4):248-253.

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the ability of relatives and friends to accompany patients. Medical facilities have taken measures to limit or prohibit direct contact in proportion to the epidemic risk while respecting the integral healthcare component of relatives’ participation in the therapeutic process. New challenges have also arisen in specialized palliative care units, where the family plays a key role in providing support and comfort to patients with advanced illness, especially at the end of life. This review aims to explore visitation policies in palliative care settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patients and methods: PubMed, SCOPUS and Web of Science (WoS) were reviewed using iteratively selected keywords (visiting policy AND palliative care AND COVID-19) to identify visiting policies in specialist palliative care settings.

Results: The presence of relatives and their direct participation in inpatient palliative care have been significantly reduced or completely excluded. Several units have established specific visiting policies designed to prevent patients, staff and visiting relatives from acquiring the infection. The rules included obligatory personal protective equipment, limiting the duration of visits and the number of permitted guests, as well as allowing only visitors that had been vaccinated against COVID-19. To mitigate the harm caused by the restrictions, new means of remote contact such as video calls through teleconferencing platforms have been introduced or expanded.

Conclusions: Delving into solutions facilitating contact between relatives and patients, implemented in inpatient palliative care units during the COVID-19 pandemic may serve to identify and establish model solutions for managing similar scenarios in the future.

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Palliative Medicine in Practice