1. Person-Centred, High-Quality, Safe and Sustainable Health and Wellness for Nova Scotians

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Focusing on quality improvement through Accreditation

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Patients, clients, families and communities are at the heart of everything we do. With an aging population and a growing burden of chronic disease in Nova Scotia, we know we need to work differently to meet the needs of those we serve and achieve healthy people, healthy communities – for generations. That’s why it’s so important for us to take an innovative approach and pursue new, evidence-informed models of care and service delivery.

NSHA recognized for four leading practices

In October 2017, Nova Scotia Health Authority hosted Accreditation Canada surveyors from across the country who conducted our first organization-wide accreditation review. Over a period of six days, the surveyors visited sites and services in all parts of the province. They met with staff, physicians, learners, volunteers, patients and families to learn about the work we do and to assess NSHA against national standards of excellence.

Accreditation standards examine governance, leadership, risk management, infection prevention and control, and medication management measures as well as the quality of care and service we provide. Accreditation is not simply a one-time event; it is a quality improvement process that guides the work we do each day.

In November, we were pleased to receive confirmation of our accreditation, a positive reflection of our collective commitment to quality improvement and patient safety.

In its final report, Accreditation Canada noted the following areas of focus for ongoing improvement: transfer of information between units and departments, client identification practices, medication reconciliation and use, falls and suicide prevention strategies, as well as patient flow.

The report notes a number of strengths, including the enormous progress achieved since NSHA began in April 2015. The team recognized the commitment of dedicated leaders, employees, physicians and volunteers across the entire organization and indicated there is a solid vision for the future of health and wellness in Nova Scotia.

Since we received our formal accreditation, the Health Standards Organization has recognized four NSHA initiatives as leading practices.

Meeting the needs of diverse patients, clients and families


Nova Scotia Health Authority provides language interpretation services to patients, clients and families who do not speak English fluently or understand it fully. In 2017-18, NSHA provided language interpretation during 9,253 visits, supporting quality care and clear communication with patients, clients and families.

NSHA continued to expand services and care in French throughout the province. We increasingly interacted in French with valued community partners through engagement initiatives, community meetings and regular communications. We increased postings in French on social media platforms and increased content in French on our webpages. Patient education documents continued to be translated to French to help French-speaking patients prepare for their visit to our facilities, or to be informed about their care. Read our 2018-19 French-language services plan.

Learn more about how Public Health is working to provide increased access to service for French-speaking Nova Scotians.

Dartmouth General Hospital setting national standards

Improving patient outcomes is top of mind for the team at Dartmouth General. Often the approaches introduced and test driven at the hospital become the standard of care across the system. And sometimes these initiatives grab the attention of national health standards organizations. Such is the case with the recent national recognition of the hospital’s Pressure Ulcer Team. Their program of prevention and early recognition of pressure ulcers has been designated a leading practice by the Health Standards Organization (HSO).

The Inpatient Pressure Ulcer Consult Team was formed in the fall of 2014 to act as a consult service to improve the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers, more commonly known as bed sores, are among the top contributing factors to extending the stay of patients in the hospital.

“To assess and optimize care of patients with pressure ulcers, our team creates treatment plans focused on nutrition, pressure offloading, and local wound care. Critical to our success, is a multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach with continuity of the care team,” says Dr. Natalie Cheng.

Since the Pressure Ulcer team was formed, the prevalence rates of pressure ulcers have dropped significantly at Dartmouth General. In the first year, rates dropped 8 per cent and have continued to stay approximately 6 to 8 per cent lower than 2015 in the subsequent years.

“Staff report a greater awareness of the importance of pressure injury assessment, identification, management and prevention,” explained Dr. Cheng. “Patients with pressure injuries are receiving quicker, appropriate interventions, such as having a pressure redistribution air mattress, appropriate seat cushion and consultations as needed. This involves many people across the system making a patient’s experience here much more positive. We can say with certainty that everyone at DGH is working together to prevent pressure ulcers from happening.”

The team continues to evaluate its work on an ongoing basis to ensure that they are providing the highest level of quality care possible for our patients. In the meantime, healthcare teams in hospitals across the country can access the details of our approach on the Health Standards Organization (HSO) website.

Read about our other three leading practices:

  • - Walk and Roll, an initiative in Annapolis and Kings Counties to keep mobility-impaired older adults moving. Read more.
  • - The Renal Program’s work with patients and clients to improve safety by developing a Best Possible Medication History. Read more.
  • - Our Rehabilitation Services team’s client-centred waitlist management model. Read more.