Staff safety 'immediate' concern in Health P.E.I. report

·2 min read
Many of the findings in the 2021 report correspond to findings of a 2019 report. (Shutterstock - image credit)
Many of the findings in the 2021 report correspond to findings of a 2019 report. (Shutterstock - image credit)

Reviewing ways to keep staff safe from aggressive and violent patients is listed as an immediate concern in a consultant's report to Health P.E.I. made public Tuesday.

The report, by consultant Garth Waite and dated May 11 of this year, is based on an exit survey of 31 former Health P.E.I. employees. CBC News received a redacted copy of the report last week through a freedom of information request.

The report's recommendations were redacted by Health P.E.I. There is a provision in freedom of information legislation allowing recommendations to government to be redacted. A copy of the report was given, however, to members of the legislature's standing committee on health care with the recommendations intact. PC MLA Sidney MacEwen tweeted out information from the report Tuesday, and CBC News was able to obtain an unredacted copy.

Many of the recommendations are flagged as changes that need to be made immediately, including safety concerns.

  • Immediate: Conduct a review of policies & procedures concerning aggressive and violent patients / clients.

  • Immediate: Review the safety and security of the physical environment for [mental health and addictions] program sites to identify needs and develop strategies to address gaps.

In relation to this concern the report recommends mental health patients be diverted away from the emergency department. The province had been doing this with psychiatric urgent care centres but those have been shut down.

A centre operated at Hillsborough Hospital from April to October of last year, but was closed due to a nursing shortage.

Better direction needed

The report also recommended that management do a better job of engaging staff regarding strategic direction and when making changes.

  • Immediate: Improve management communication of strategic direction and organizational goals.

  • Immediate: Managers should regularly engage staff, especially when planning new programs and making significant changes. During engagement, managers should intentionally and transparently listen to and act on staff suggestions and feedback.

Waite backed up his recommendations by cross-referencing his findings with a previous report.

In 2019 a survey of staff by Accreditation Canada's Qmentum program identified many similar problems, particularly in mental health and addictions.

Accreditation Canada survey results

The report listed more than a dozen concerns that were red-flagged in both the staff survey and the exit survey, including concerns whether a safe environment was being provided for patient recovery, access to urgent mental health services, and the involvement of patients and families in identifying risks to families.

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