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Advocacy Letter

The Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses (CACCN) is raising awareness and calling for action from the Federal and Provincial Governments to recognize the impact of the pandemic on critical care nurses and their colleagues; and to provide increased systemic support structures for critical care nurses and their colleagues, now and long after the pandemic has been declared over.

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  1. The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister
  2. The Hon. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
  3. The Hon. Erin, O’Toole, MP, Leader of the Opposition
  4. Provincial Premiers
  5. Provincial Health Ministers
CACCN Advocacy Letter

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Call to Action Letter

Date

The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister

The Hon. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

The Hon. Erin, O’Toole, MP, Leader of the Opposition

Provincial Premiers

Provincial Health Ministers

Title:  Canada’s Critical Care Nurses need Critical Care

The Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses (CACCN) is writing to raise awareness of the emotional impact and collective trauma being experienced by critical care nurses and their colleagues throughout the nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critical care nurses are and have always been actively involved in protecting and supporting Canadians, providing care to the most acute critically ill patients and their families. For over a year, critical care nurses have endured countless challenges when caring for these patients, from difficult working conditions and insufficient resources to exposure to significant human suffering and fear of exposure to themselves and their families. Critical care nurses have made numerous personal, professional, and emotional sacrifices to ensure that the best care has been, and continues to be, provided to their patients and families.

CACCN recognizes the emotional toll the pandemic is having on all critical care nurses. Research has demonstrated that critical care nurses are experiencing significant post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and psychological distress in these current contexts.  CACCN recognizes there will be long-term consequences for critical care nurses.

CACCN is calling for action from the Federal and Provincial governments to recognize the impact of the pandemic on critical care nurses and their colleagues.  We are calling on you to immediately establish systemic support structures for critical care nurses and ensure their long-term sustainability. 

We advocate for the following interventions:

  1. Nurses’ health and well being:
    1. Debriefing Programs & Crisis Management Teams: Funding for readily accessible debriefing opportunities that are not limited to critical events.
    1. Mental Health: Funding for mental health programs for healthcare workers and improved access to services such as private counselling/therapy and Employee Assistance Programs.
    1. Training Supports: Funding for training, hiring, and supporting additional critical care nurses.   The number of intensive care unit beds across the country means little without enough specially training critical care nurses to care for critically ill patients and families. Additional funding for professional development opportunities could promote the retention of critical care nursing staff.
    1. Subsidized Childcare: Funding for subsidized childcare within health facilities.
  • Moral Courage & Distress: 
    • Moral Courage: Recognition of moral courage as one of the fundamental values of the nursing profession and a powerful method of coping with ethical problems.  Psychological empowerment is a suitable method of enabling individuals to cope with mental pressures of the work environment (Khoshmehr, Z., Barkhordari-Sharifabad, M., Nasiriani, K. 2020). 
    • Moral Empowerment Interventions: Funding support for a national moral empowerment intervention program including definitions/stages of moral distress, the consequences on nurses and patients, and training strategies for coping with a specialist (ethics and psychiatric specialist).   
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: 
    • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosis: Recognition of PTSD as a diagnosis for registered nurses in all Canadian provinces.
    • Workers’ Compensation Benefits: Grant access to Workers’ Compensation Benefits for a PTSD diagnosis or any mental illness diagnosis related to a traumatic work-related event.

Canada’s nearly-21,000 critical care nurses play an integral role in the fight against COVID-19. We are advocating for these systemic structural supports to care for them, as they care for us all.


The Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses (CACCN) is a volunteer organization of critical care nurses and is the voice for excellence in Canadian critical care nursing.  Our shared goal is to promote quality patient- and family-centered care for Canadian’s experiencing life-threatening illness and injury.

References
Khoshmehr, Z., Barkhordari-Sharifabad, M., Nasiriani, K. et al. Moral courage and psychological empowerment among nurses. BMC Nurs 19, 43 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-020-00435-9