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New guideline for nurse-to-patients ratio, coming to N.S.

By Caitlin Snow May 6, 2024 | 2:23 PM

A new guideline is coming to Nova Scotia to help guarantee the number of hours nurses work and patients they care for in a single shift.

The Nova Scotia Nurses Union says they negotiated last summer with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK to address staffing shortages and burn out.

In a statement, the union says they are still “hammering out the details,” but the new plan will come to fruition by the end of this month.

What it means is, there will be a clear formula that will determine the number of nurses needed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on every unit, in each hospital in the province.

How many nurses required will be based on the needs of each particular unit.

Nova Scotia is only the second province in Canada to implement this strategy, after British Columbia, but it has long been established in places like Australia, California, Ireland as well as Asia.

President Janet Hazelton tells our newsroom nurses are often working short, and when nurses go to work, they have no idea how many patients they will be looking after in that one shift.

That is about to change.

“I’m not trying to lift a patient by myself…I have others with me to help me so I’m less likely to get hurt. I’m going to give better patient care because I’m not going to have 8, 9, 10 patients… I’m going to have 4 or 5.”

She says this will be very reassuring for nurses and is also a guaranteed number of hours they will work; something they have never had before.

Hazelton adds that they hope guaranteed nurse-to-patient ratios in Nova Scotia, will also help recruit healthcare workers from out of province.

She says there have been a number of different initiatives to help bring in nurses to the province including bonuses, a new contract with more pay as well a promise to hire new grads.

“It’s going to take a number of different initiatives, and this is just but another, but we think it’s one of the best.”

The staff they need will arrive by the end of May, then they will address where they are short.