Quality Practice - A resource for nurses and nurse leaders

  October 2019 | Volume 18, issue 5
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Encourage nurses to get involved with Council and committees to gain valuable experience, knowledge and skills

Do you know a nurse who is passionate about patient care? Applications to serve on a statutory committee are now open and Council elections are just around the corner.

Each fall, CNO seeks RPNs, RNs and NPs who are committed to safe nursing care to serve on committees and Council. Every year, we receive applications and nominations from talented nurses across the province—but we’d like to see more! We’re looking for nurses from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to apply. We need diversity—of thought, experience and background—on our committees to bring a variety of perspectives to the work.

Naomi Thick

Naomi Thick, RN, is a clinical manager for inpatients at Winchester District Memorial Hospital.

In particular, we’re hoping to see more RPNs apply this year. Each year, we receive the fewest number of applications from this registration class, and we want to make sure they know that their perspective is valued. “RPNs play a big role in regulation,” says Council member Naomi Thick, RN. “When nurses join our Council or a committee, they do so because they are passionate about patient safety, and RPNs in various practice settings are making a difference for their patients every day.”

Reach out to nurses

Cheryl Evans 

Cheryl Evans, RN, is a nursing professional practice and policy advisor at St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, and an assistant clinical professor at McMaster University’s School of Nursing.

Many nurses have what it takes to become leaders at work and at CNO—they just need a nudge in the right direction. “I’m a big believer in the tap on the shoulder,” says Cheryl Evans, RN and CNO Council President. “I’m on Council today because my mentor at work tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I’d ever considered getting involved at CNO. When people express confidence in your ability to do something, and then show you how to get there, it matters and it helps.”

Heather Whittle

Heather Whittle, NP, works in the Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine at London Health Sciences Centre.

“Encourage your young nurses in particular to get involved!” says Heather Whittle, NP and CNO Council member. “Tell them to join that committee and get the exposure and learn how things work. The result is that they’ll become skilled at articulating what they bring to the table. I wish I’d done more of that as a young nurse.”

Sherri Simo

Sherry Simo, RPN, works in occupational health nursing.

Sherry Simo, RPN and Panel Chair for the ICRC, says that, “It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have, it’s an opportunity to shape yourself as a professional by broadening your understanding of the profession as a whole and gaining appreciation for the value of nursing regulation.”

Why should nurses get involved?

We have heard from current members that serving is a significant commitment that is also personally and professionally rewarding.

Ashley Fox

Ashley Fox, RPN, works in retirement home nursing and previously practiced in long-term care in the community.

Ashley Fox, RPN and Council Vice President, enjoys “making a difference in care delivery for patients and their loved ones.” She feels nurses’ competencies contribute to Council’s effectiveness by “allowing Council to make unbiased, unconflicted decisions, because we are acting in public interest and assuring public safety.” We need nurses from all areas of practice who share Ashley’s commitment to safe nursing care and can bring unique valuable insights to the table.

Kyle Nielsen 

Kyle Nielsen, RN, has a background in forensic mental health. He currently works in the community.

What do members do? “Nurses and public members review cases, share perspectives and learn together,” says Kyle Nielsen, RN, Panel Chair for the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC). “Every time I go to committee, I see a different way of looking at things. Everyone’s experience, perceptions, voice and input are balanced to render a final decision.”

Judy Petersen 

Judy Petersen is a public member on Council. She is a retired management consultant with 40 years of government experience specializing in technology and health information management systems.

Public Council member and Registration Committee Chair, Judy Petersen, insists, “Nurses need to know they’ve got what it takes to make vital contributions to our work at CNO.” She summed her Council experience up as commitment, contribution and collegiality.

Your support is key

Nurses who are thinking about applying to serve on a committee or running for election to Council need their employer’s support. Being on Council or a committee takes commitment in time and travel. In return, nurses gain experience, knowledge and skills to take forward in their careers.

If you know a nurse who is passionate about patient care and might be a fit for Council or one of our committees, encourage them to read our article in the September issue of The Standard and begin their committee application process or consider running for election today.

Nurses must meet CNO standards

Do your workplace policies always support nurses’ ability to provide the safest possible patient care according to the nursing practice standards? Our practice standards are patient-focused and support nurses in providing safe and ethical nursing care to the people of Ontario. When organizational policies are in sync with the standards, nurses know they are providing safe, quality patient care. While nurses are expected to comply with employer policies, their primary accountability is to patients. Their practice must meet legislative requirements and CNO’s standards of practice.

CNO’s standards of practice outline the expectations of nurses in Ontario. We developed them by considering nursing practice, societal and health care context, in-depth research, relevant legislation and best practice evidence.

To determine how your policies affect your facility’s nursing staff, have the policy- and decision-makers at your facility ask themselves these questions:

  • Are you aware of what the CNO standards are?
  • Were CNO standards considered when organizational policies were developed?
  • Do nurses have the necessary tools to apply CNO standards in their practice?
  • Do workplace policies conflict with CNO standards? If so, why? What needs to happen to make them align with CNO standards?
  • What are the consequences for your organization and its staff if you insist nurses adhere to a policy that conflicts with CNO practice standards?

Taking steps to align your policies with CNO standards of practice creates a supportive quality practice environment that promotes safe, ethical patient care. It’s a matter of public safety.

You can find all of our practice standards at http://www.cno.org/en/learn-about-standards-guidelines/standards-and-guidelines/.

Membership renewal coming soon

Annual Membership Renewal will open in November. Once it’s open, we will let nurses know via email, as well as on our social media pages and in The Standard. Nurses will have until Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, to renew their membership. Remember that nurses must renew their membership with CNO every year to continue practicing as a nurse in Ontario.

While renewal happens once a year, nurses are required to keep the information they provide up-to-date throughout the year. They should update any changes to their contact information, job or business address, or any of the other registrations and licences they hold within 30 days of the change. NPs must also update any changes to their hospital or health facility privileges.

Nurses can update their information quickly and easily at any time on Maintain Your Membership.

Prevent abandoned patient records to avoid privacy breaches

Under the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), custodians are obliged to ensure personal health information in their possession is protected against privacy breaches. But do you know what would happen to those health records in the event of your retirement, relocation, sudden medical leave or unexpected death?

The reality is that abandoned records can result in privacy breaches and prevent access to critical health information for patient care.

To help avoid consequences like these for your organization, the Information Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) has created a fact sheet on how to prevent abandoned records.

Among the IPC’s recommendations is the need to create a succession plan that clearly identifies a successor and their responsibilities, as well as those of any agents (such as a record storage facility) assisting in the retention, transfer or disposal of records. It’s important to review and update your plan on a regular basis, especially when there is a change in circumstances that could affect the transfer of health information to a successor.

You can read more about protecting personal health information in the Confidentiality and Privacy—Personal Health Information practice standard and in our record retention FAQ.

If you have questions about succession planning contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario at info@ipc.on.ca.

Police can now request health records in urgent missing persons cases

As of July 1, 2019, the police can make an urgent request for the personal health records of a missing person.

A police officer can make this request if there are reasonable grounds to believe the missing person’s safety is at risk and their health records will assist in locating them. This new law under the Missing Persons Act applies in situations where no criminal activity is suspected and the missing person has not been in contact with people they would normally have been in contact with.

The request must be approved by a judge or justice of the peace and must specify the information needed.

If you have questions about disclosing information to the police or how this new law applies to your workplace, consult with your organization’s legal counsel.

To learn more about your accountabilities to safeguard a patient’s personal health information, see the Confidentiality and Privacy—Personal Health Information practice standard.

We’re on social!

Did you know CNO is active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram? Follow us to stay up to date about:

  • important reminders (such as when the last day to renew your membership is!)
  • updates to practice standards
  • news that affects nursing practice
  • when a new issue of The Standard is out
  • changes to regulation and legislation
  • …and more!