The Development of A Complementary Therapies Policy for The South-East Health Care Corporation, Moncton, NB
By Catherine Aquino-Russell, RN, MN

Patients are demanding more input into, and control over their own health care. Complementary therapies are gaining popularity within communities. Over the past few years at the South-East Health Care Corporation (SEHCC), more and more patients were asking to receive a variety of complementary therapies.

One one occasion however, concerns arose when a practitioner of a certain modality, who was not a member of the staff of the Corporation, overstepped the boundaries of his practice. This created apprehension on the part of all disciplines. Discussions occurred at the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) and the Professional Advisory Committee (PAC). The Senior Advisor-Nursing is a member of both these committees. The Corporation did not have a policy for guidance, so it was decided that one be created to cover all types of complementary therapies.

It was very important from the physicians' and other health care professionals perspectives that any complementary therapy be practiced by professionals who are part of the staff of the Corporation. In this way, professional associations can be consulted should discussions arise that are related to professional practice.

Two of the main modalities of discussion included acupuncture and Therapeutic Touch. Acupuncture is considered to be part of the physiotherapists scope of practice, following an educational program. Therapeutic Touch is considered to be a part of Nurses' professional practice following an educational program.

A Complementary Therapies Policy was created by the members of the PAC. It went through the usual readings and revisions and was subsequently passed by both the PAC and the MAC.

The policy requires meeting the following criteria:

The therapy is not to replace or reduce medical care as set out by the physician. The profession has standards of practice associated with the therapy. The therapy falls within the scope of practice of the professional performing the therapy. The professional discipline must be recognized by the SEHCC. The patient has been given an explanation of the therapy and is in agreement with its use. It is the responsibility of the professional to forward confirmation of certification of the therapy to Human Resources.

As with any other intervention, documentation on the patient's chart by the health professional will include: * Patient/Family request for the complementary therapy. * Explanation of the intervention/complementary therapy given to the patient * Results/outcomes of the intervention/complementary therapy. For the introduction of this policy there was an awareness campaign, coordinated by the Senior Advisor-Nursing (SAN). It is believed that because the SAN is a Therapeutic Touch practitioner, reception was enhanced within the organization. The SAN has been asked to make presentations on numerous occasions to: multi-disciplinary groups, physicians, nurses, registered nursing assistants, patients and others. The SAN has also been consulted by staff throughout the organization (within the hospital and community) to give TT treatments to patients (mainly those with chronic pain) with positive results from the patients' perspectives. All of these treatments have been recorded on the progress notes on the patients' charts.

A list of Therapeutic Touch practitioners (RN's and RNA's) is presently being collected in order to ensure treatments may occur in a timely fashion should requests be made.

Catherine Aquino-Russell, RN, MN was the Senior Advisor-Nursing of the South-East Health Care Corporation in Moncton, New Brunswick. She has left that position and is now living in Jahcarta

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