Strengthening the Bond: A tri-profession forum focussed on continuity of care

On May 22-23, 2014, Provincial Council seized a unique opportunity as a body of nursing leaders. We engaged as part of a “tri-professional”, Board-to-Board forum with four other organizations representing two other professional groups: physicians and pharmacists. This was an opportunity for focused engagement with two of the professional groups that registered nurses and nurse practitioners engage with most often—to dialogue about a topic that engenders great passion in all of us: continuity of care. We know that the patient experience related to continuity of care needs to improve and we are committed to working together to address this issue.

Three words come to mind as I think of the key themes of the two days: understanding, collaboration, and commitment.

Understanding.  It was gratifying and enlightening to hear how the dialogue evolved over the two days. As we gained greater understanding of each other’s practice worlds, we quickly discovered that many of our issues were shared issues—and we covered lots of ground—most of it common. We gained some understanding of the barriers to continuity that exist in the systems that each of us work within—and there were a few times we surprised each other with suggestions for practical, on the ground solutions that each of us could take away and implement tomorrow—all as a result of gaining a better understanding of each other’s worlds.

Collaboration. We identified some of the barriers that emerge from systems that make continuity the patient’s responsibility (and problem)—and how we fail our patients when we do not take accountability for ensuring communication, and a connected system of health care that wraps around collaborative, team-based, comprehensive and coordinated primary care. We also affirmed that the relationships, trust and communication that we build between and among care providers are essential supporting elements of continuity.  The most important point is to remember that it isn’t about us – it must be about the patient.

Commitment. As the forum concluded, we shared our commitment to continue communicating—to continue to build relationships and to learn from one another, and to support one another in advocating for systems that support and ensure continuity. We acknowledged that action is required  individually and collectively to ensure that primary care reform stays on track. We committed to further dialogue on how our professions could collaborate on resources to support team-based practice, and acknowledged that this Board to Board discussion was an important first step.

As next steps, the operational leads of each organization will meet to discuss mechanisms to increase the collaboration and dialogue between our five organizations. Future discussions will likely include how we might collaborate on developing guidelines around interprofessional practice, and ways to support better communication and best practices to ensure continuity of care.

We are looking forward to future and more frequent points of connection–we aren’t sure what that will look like yet– but we are certain that more shared thinking and dialogue is needed to ensure a patient-centered, integrated and connected health system.

Previously, the five organizations jointly hosted a tri-profession conference open to all members called “Strengthening the Bond” in 2007, 2009 and 2012 subsequent to a successful joint conference in 2005 hosted by  CARNA  and the Alberta College of Pharmacists.

What about your practice setting? What are you doing to support interprofessional collaboration, better communication and best practices to ensure continuity of care?  

Shannon Spenceley, PhD, RN
CARNA President

Mary-Anne Robinson, MSA, BN, RN

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