Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Putting patients first: Nurses offer resources to enhance care

Putting patients first: Nurses offer resources to enhance care


TORONTO, April 12, 2006 – As we mark National Cancer Month, Ontario nurses have released two resources to help health-care providers enhance patient care. The Nursing Best Practice Guidelines (BPGs), released by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), are aimed at helping patients achieve better pain control associated with diseases like cancer and to encourage greater participation in their own health-care.

“Relieving pain and getting patients involved in decisions affecting their health-care is part of the ongoing professional practice of nurses,” says Tazim Virani, director of RNAO’s Nursing Best Practice Guidelines Program. “These guidelines give nurses and other health-care providers the latest evidence-based strategies to become even more aware and responsive to individual patient needs and are especially useful in today’s stretched and busy health-care climate.”

RNAO’s Assessment and Management of Pain guideline (November 2002) is based on the principle that pain is unique and different for each individual. RNAO developed the guideline because acute or chronic pain has profound physiological and psychological effects on patients, affecting their recovery from illness, altering their physical and emotional functioning, reducing quality of life and ability to work.

The resource emphasizes that patients and their families should be involved in making pain management decisions. This tool provides nurses with both the knowledge and the skills to assess and help manage pain due to surgery, illness or injury. The guideline advises that there are different ways to deal with different kinds of pain and each individual needs a unique pain management plan. The resource also recommends that nurses employ a useful zero-to-ten scale, when asking patients to rate their pain. The guideline recommends both pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods of treatment.

“Cancer, like many serious illnesses, can cause patients to experience pain that can undermine all aspects of life. Pain can be managed if clinicians use the right tools to ensure the best relief possible, enabling patients to live as fully as possible. Patients with cancer or other kinds of pain need to be partners with the health-care team to assess and find solutions to their discomfort,” says RN Doris Howell, a cancer researcher at the University Health Network and the lead in developing the guideline.

RNAO’s Client Centred CareBPG (July 2002 and updated 2006) clarifies the guiding principles and values that nurses use to build positive relationships with patients in their daily practice. It advocates a caring and sensitive approach in which patients are viewed as individuals with changing needs.

“RNAO’s guideline is based on the assumption that you know yourself the best and have the right to play an active role in working with a health-care team to define your goals and how to achieve them,” says RN Penny Nelligan, director of the Huron County Health Unit and the lead in developing the guideline. “At a practical level, client centred care means nurses listening to the needs of patients and respecting their autonomy. This kind of human interaction can make the difference between a good or bad experience for a patient in our health-care system. ”

RNAO’s ambitious Best Practice Guidelines Program, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide spectrum of health-care areas. The 29 guidelines developed to date are a substantive contribution towards building excellence in Ontario’s health-care system. They are available to nurses across Canada and abroad.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

To learn more about RNAO’s Nursing Best Guidelines Program or to view this resource, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605