Seeking feedback on regulation for health-care assistants

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healthcareVictoria: The Province is seeking feedback on a proposed new approach to regulate health-care assistants, which would see a new registry model established under a newly formed single provincial nursing college.

Health-care assistants are front-line workers who provide basic nursing care such as personal hygiene, dressing, feeding and medication assistance to seniors and other adults in a variety of settings including residential care, assisted living and the client’s home. There are almost 33,000 health-care assistants registered in the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry. Currently, all health-care assistants who work for publicly funded employers are required to register, and some private employers have opted to participate voluntarily.

While the existing registry has significantly improved the regulation of health-care assistants since it was established in 2010, concerns about the limited ability of the current registry model to provide oversight of health-care assistants have been expressed by the B.C. ombudsperson, the B.C. seniors advocate and through an external review initiated by the Ministry of Health. After consulting with professionals in the field, the proposed new approach for regulating health-care assistants is intended to address these concerns and enhance patient safety.

In June 2016, the board chairs of the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of British Columbia, College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia and College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of British Columbia announced they are working to form a single nursing college to replace the three existing nursing colleges. With health-care assistants providing basic nursing care and the infrastructure already in place to monitor the registry, a majority of stakeholders indicated support for moving the registry under the new nursing college.

Details about this new regulatory approach have been outlined in an intentions paper for public consultation. The Health Care Assistant Oversight Policy Intentions Paper for Consultation is now posted for input until Feb. 7, 2017, and can be found here: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/practitioner-professional-resources/professional-regulation.

The comments will be collected and used to help develop a phased approach to smoothly transition to the new model for oversight of health-care assistants over the next couple of years:

  • Phase 1 – creation of a new single provincial nursing college;
  • Phase 2 – amendments to the Health Professions Act to provide the legal foundation for the new model of oversight of health-care assistants, and
  • Phase 3 – transition from the existing registry to the single provincial nursing college.

Until the new model is implemented, the existing registry will continue business operations as usual. Oversight for all health-care assistants, including those who work for private providers and in the social-services sector will be integrated into the new nursing regulator when it is established.

Improving the quality of senior-care services is a key focus of the ministry’s Setting Priorities for the B.C. Health System. These changes will provide better regulation and oversight for health-care assistants who provide a large portion of seniors care in British Columbia. It will also develop and strengthen professional development, contributing to a system of care that focuses on the needs and safety of patients.

Learn more:

To learn more about the BC Care Aide and Community Health Registry, please visit: www.cachwr.bc.ca/