Your Feb. 8 story about layoffs at Inglewood Care Centre does not reflect my views about the value and skills of licensed practical nurses and their evolving scope of nursing practice.
The B.C. Nurses' Union strongly supports increased collaboration among all nurses and other providers on the health-care team. We welcome the increased scope of practice for LPNs and the hiring of more LPNs in long-term care. With increased education and enhanced support for LPNs as independent professionals, they are able to bring greater skills, theoretical understanding of the nursing process and knowledge to benefit the residents in their care.
What is distressing and unethical in situations such as Inglewood is the reduction in the supports available to LPNs as they take on greater responsibilities for residents' bedside care. For example, skill mix changes that reduce the number of registered nurses available for consultation and support can undermine the quality of care. These changes can put LPNs in potentially risky situations when they face issues that might be beyond their scope of practice.
With the proper supports LPNs have the educational background to deal with complex care needs of residents within their scope of practice. What concerns me is the loss of experienced and knowledgeable registered nurses and the supports they bring to the care team through a different educational preparation and scope of nursing practice.
Kath-Ann Terrett, chairwoman, B.C. Nurses' Union Coastal Mountain Region
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