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Working with limited resources

Situations where the need for health care is greater than the available resources can happen in any practice setting.

Delivering health care with limited resources

BCCNM acknowledges that it is an unprecedented time in health care, and we are grateful for the important role nurses and midwives play during this time across the system. We know you are being asked to do more than ever before and expected to work in different ways. You have shown great compassion and dedication to your clients and their families every day. We understand that you are stressed and concerned about being able to maintain standards of nursing and midwifery practice.

It’s important to remember that even in situations where you cannot provide optimal client care due to circumstances beyond your control (such as working with limited resources, increased workload or working in an unfamiliar area), we want to assure you that the standard of care is always considered in context. The standard of care can evolve with the dynamic nature of the pandemic and other circumstances that we are faced with, including that resources may become scarce or absent.

Nurses and midwives are responsible for providing the best care possible under the circumstances, setting priorities, using critical thinking and professional judgment, communicating with their employer and participating in efforts to improve client care. During this uncertain time remember that you are expected to follow your employer’s organization policies and procedures and seek out any relevant resources they may have available.

We've heard from registrants worried that a complaint may be brought against them for circumstances out of their control during this challenging time. Remember that complaints are not uncommon; some professionals need to address complaints in the course of their career. Each complaint is carefully assessed within the context of the practice environment. We encourage you to visit our complaints section to learn more about the process.

BCCNM recognizes your efforts and challenges. If you need more information or wish to speak with someone about a practice concern, please contact one of our Regulatory Practice Consultants.​ The following strategies can also help:

Review our FAQs

Define the issue​

  • Identify the factors interfering with your ability to provide safe, appropriate care
  • Discuss your concerns with knowledgeable people such as colleagues, managers, professional practice office staff, a BCCNM regulatory practice consultant
  • Look for information such as BCCNM RPN Professional and Practice standards, CNA Code of Ethics, employer policies, BC legislation, collective agreements or employment contracts

Communicate

  • Communication is key. It’s important to inform the appropriate person (supervisor, coordinator, manager) when a lack of support or resources interferes with your ability to provide safe, appropriate client care.

Document

Whether you are a direct care nurse or a nurse manager, documentation outlines your concerns.

  • Use the standards to describe safety issues including care that could not be provided and/or possible client outcomes
  • Be a specific as possible. General statements about clients being at risk, working short staffed/with limited resources, and being unsafe do not provide enough information to help others to address concerns

Work together

Work collaboratively with others to resolve these situations by suggesting strategies and supporting solutions that promote safe care.

  • Identify your options and develop a plan.
  • Implement the plan, evaluate it and change if needed.

Use Resolving Professional Practice Problems to help guide you through this process. If you're facing an ethical dilemma, follow the ethical decision-making framework in the Duty to Provide Care practice standard.

Nurses in leadership roles are expected to review your concerns and take appropriate action. They are expected to use strategies that support the provision of safe, competent and ethical care such as:

  • Reviewing the number and mix of qualified staff
  • Developing and using effective contingency plans
  • Limiting elective admissions and procedures
  • Minimizing non-nursing duties for RNs
  • Managing and supporting RNs in overcapacity situations
  • Sharing staff and client care concerns with higher levels of administration
  • Advocating for adequate resources to support client care ​

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 Need help?

​​​For further information on the Standards of Practice or professional practice matters, contact us:

  • Email practice@bccnm.ca
  • 604.742.6200 x8803 (Metro Vancouver)
  • Toll-free 1.866.880.7101 x8803 (within Canada only)