NSHA Completes First Province-Wide Survey

December 8, 2017

Accreditation helps to support system-wide quality improvement journey aiming to bring consistency to services offered across the province of Nova Scotia, says Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA).

First Province-Wide Survey

From Oct. 15-20, 2017, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) completed its first province-wide survey, which involved more than 30 surveyors across more than 50 sites throughout the province of Nova Scotia.

Cindy Connollywho was the Director of Quality Improvement, Safety and Patient Relations for NSHA’s Western Zone and the organization’s Accreditation Co-Lead at the time of the survey, notes that the recent AC survey served to support the quality improvement journey NSHA has been on since April 1, 2015.

Connolly explains that in April 2015, nine separate health organizations were brought together to form NSHA (IWK Health Centre in Halifax, N.S. remains a separate entity). She notes that since then, NSHA has been using the accreditation process to build consistency in the services that it provides.

“The on-site survey emphasized that we need to continue that journey, to implement standardized procedures and be consistent in how we provide care across the Health Authority,” she says.


Connolly adds the on-site survey experience was “valuable,” as it allowed NSHA to learn from its peers.

She notes that another benefit of the AC accreditation process is the opportunity to speak to peers from across the country and learn about ways that they’ve implemented the standards. “That’s a really valuable piece,” Connolly says. “It’s a cross-country, pan-Canadian perspective on how the standards are being implemented.”

Connolly says that the on-site survey also enables two-way learning, as though AC surveyors share valuable information with the organization, it is also an opportunity for the organization to showcase the great work that it’s been doing.

Amanda Creelman, quality Improvement and Safety Leader as well as Accreditation Co-Lead at NSHA, says NSHA staff saw the survey experience as an opportunity to share the great work they’ve been doing with an external audience.

“They really saw it as an opportunity to share the great work they are doing,” Creelman says, adding that staff wished they could’ve spent even more time with the surveyors.

Patient Partner Perspective

During the recent survey, NSHA was one of the first organizations to have a patient surveyor on its survey team.

Connolly notes that NSHA has been working hard to increase and improve its patient and family engagement at all levels of the organization.

She says that she is part of NSHA’s Patient, Family and Public Advisory Council and that she values the different perspectives that patients, family members and the public bring to the table.

“It’s a different way of thinking,” Connolly says. “It helps us get our heads wrapped around the different perspectives and how we need to be thinking differently about how we provide care.”

Creelman added that having a patient on the surveyor team was appreciated by NSHA, as that person was able to provide guidance on what the organization was doing well and where it can improve when it comes to aspects of Patient- and Family-Centred Care (PFCC).

“It was a good opportunity to have a patient surveyor there to focus on that,” Creelman says. “We are looking forward to seeing this grow as the process continues.”

This spring, AC began working with experienced patients to co-design a purposeful role for patients in the accreditation survey process.

At the end of October, AC held its first surveyor training session that included patient surveyors. Out of 34 newly trained surveyors, 13 have significant, first-hand knowledge of the health system, bringing unique insight and perspectives to the survey team.

Value of Accreditation

Connolly notes that the accreditation process gives an organization an opportunity to be assessed against national standards of Canada, which are the backbone of AC’s accreditation program.

“It’s an external assessment,” Connolly says. “It’s a validation of the things we need to improve on and of the areas that we are doing well.”

Connolly adds that during the survey, AC surveyors also helped NSHA identify best practices that could be shared throughout the organization.

On Nov. 23, 2017, NSHA received notice that they have been awarded a decision of Accredited. This means the organization has succeeded in meeting the fundamental requirements of the accreditation program. Given that the organization is only in its third year, NSHA says it is pleased with the decision.

In an official announcement of its Accreditation decision, Janet Knox, President and CEO of NSHA said:

“As a relatively new organization, we still have much work ahead of us; however, the surveyors saw first-hand the progress we have made and recognized that we have a vision for the future of health and wellness in Nova Scotia. This survey provided us with an excellent opportunity to gain an understanding of what we do well and what we can do better, and we will use the recommendations provided by Accreditation Canada to help us build upon the good work we are doing.”

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