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Meet an Accreditation Canada Surveyor: Jeanette Edwards

May 11, 2018

Jeanette Edwards

Jeanette Edwards, Strategic Lead for Community Health, Quality, and Learning for Shared Health Services in Manitoba

Jeanette Edwards is the Strategic Lead for Community Health, Quality, and Learning for Shared Health Services in Manitoba.

A seasoned health professional with many years of experience in leadership roles, Edwards has been a surveyor for Accreditation Canada (AC) since 1994.

“I’ve been involved for many years,” Edwards says. “But it all started because I believed that health was more than hospitals.”

She says that early on, the accreditation process related mainly to hospitals. She notes that at the time, she was working in Community Health and she was actually part of the team that developed AC’s Community Health Standards, which are now known as Primary Care Standards.

“Accreditation Canada encouraged us to look at all aspects of health care, beyond hospitals,” Edwards says. “Before I knew it, I became a surveyor.”

Edwards was also involved in the early development of AC’s Aboriginal Services Standards and the recruitment of First Nations surveyors.

She notes that one of the most rewarding experiences as an AC surveyor so far was mentoring First Nations surveyors and working with the First Nations communities.

“Health begins with a healthy community, and we need to support our First Nations communities in having more control over their health care,” she says. “Mentoring is such a huge opportunity.”

She noted however that her surveying experiences have taken her to different areas of health care, from large health systems to smaller regions, to a remote corner of Canada’s arctic and to several international locations.

She adds that she contributed to the initial training for key staff in a Primary Care organization in Qatar. “I was so fortunate to meet them early on in their quality journey, and then participate in a very successful Accreditation Survey visit,” Edwards says.

Edwards says that she enjoys being an AC surveyor because it’s a positive learning experience. “It’s the best personal continuing education and professional development strategy I know of. I’ve learned something on every survey.”

She adds that being a surveyor is also an opportunity to give back.

“Surveyors are there to support organizations as they strive for excellence,” Edwards says. “We all have strengths, and it’s looking at ways to share those.”

Edwards notes that when it comes to quality improvement, patient safety and ongoing learning, accreditation is “extremely valuable.”

She says the accreditation process pushes health organizations to keep up to speed with the changing health care environment.

Edwards adds however, that it’s important for organizations to go beyond the Accreditation Survey.

“We have to ensure that we are moving beyond inspection, to applying standards on a day-to-day basis and constantly addressing an integrated quality improvement approach,” she says.

Edwards also notes that patient surveyors are an important part of the accreditation process and are very welcomed.

“We’ve recognized that patients need a voice,” she says. “I’m a patient, a surveyor and a policy maker. It’s important that those perspectives are equal and that patient partners are engaged in meaningful ways.”

At AC, the role of patient surveyors was co-designed with all stakeholders; patient partners, surveyors, client organizations, and AC staff.

In May 2017, Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) des Laurentides, in Saint-Jérôme, Que., was one of the first organizations to have a patient surveyor present during its accreditation survey.

Edwards notes that all her years of surveying have been a terrific experience.

“I’ve had the most positive experiences,” she said. “As surveyors, we’re all very hardworking and we want to give back.”

Edwards began her career in Occupational Therapy. She also holds a Master’s degree in Health Care Administration.

In 2017, AC worked with its team of surveyors to complete 247 accreditation surveys in Canada and abroad.

Want to know more about AC’s surveyor team? Learn more here.