Wounds Canada and RNAO join forces to launch new interdisciplinary Wound Care Champion Program aimed at regulated health professionals in Ontario
To help address an increase in acute and hard-to-heal wounds, Wounds Canada and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) are launching a program designed to deliver evidence-informed, interdisciplinary proficient-level wound education for front-line clinicians. The Wound Care Champion Program (WCCP) will train regulated health professionals in Ontario as wound care champions, with 200 spots to be funded by the provincial Ministry of Health.
Health providers in Ontario have reported a rapid rise in acute and hard-to-heal wounds in people across all health settings since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Canadian Armed Forces’ report on long-term care (LTC) homes in Ontario reported multiple instances of severe pressure injuries, with residents experiencing excruciating wounds. These wounds also contributed to preventable deaths in LTC.
Before the pandemic, $1.5 billion was the conservative estimate of the direct cost of wound care in Ontario. The pervasiveness and high cost of acute and hard-to-heal wounds (such as surgical incisions, pressure injuries, diabetic foot ulcers, vascular wounds and more) and how to prevent and treat people with wounds are generally not well understood in Canadian communities, nor even within our own health system.
The following wound care statistics highlight how serious an issue this is:
- Every four hours, someone across Canada suffers a lower limb amputation due to a non-healing or infected diabetic foot ulcer (Diabetes Canada, 2015). Research shows this number is on the rise, with the average lower-limb amputation rate in Ontario twice as high as other high-income jurisdictions with publicly-funded health systems (Hussain et al., 2019; Behrendt, 2018).
- Infected surgical wounds increase a person’s length of stay in hospital (Mujagic et al., 2018).
- One in four people in Ontario health-care settings experience a pressure injury on any given day, despite up to 70 per cent of pressure injuries being preventable. Pressure injuries can extend a hospital stay by four to 11 days (Leaf Healthcare, 2016).
Given that 30 to 50 per cent of health care involves wound care (Wound Care Alliance, 2012), all health professionals across all sectors need to have a foundation in this specialty care area and the knowledge and skills to address this significant problem. “This comprehensive, robust and competency-based skin health and wound education program is critical to keep nurses and other health professionals up to date on best practices. Every clinician needs to have the knowledge and skills to prevent and treat persons with wounds,” says Dr. Doris Grinspun, CEO of RNAO. She adds, “The pandemic revealed an urgent need for ongoing high-quality, easily accessible learning for clinical care providers. We are proud of our partnership with Wounds Canada to provide training essential to advancing the health of Ontarians.”
“The Wound Care Champion program is designed to produce health-care providers who are both proficient in wound prevention and care and prepared to lead change in the health community,” says Crystal McCallum, director of education at Wounds Canada, who is looking forward to celebrating the launch of the program with members of the national wound community at the 2022 Wounds Canada National Conference taking place Oct. 14–16. “The program is interdisciplinary to encourage interprofessional collaboration and person-centred care, which in turn produces a stronger, more vibrant wound care community.”
It's not only health providers that are happy to hear about the launch of this multi-faceted, self-directed wound education program. Susan Penzner – a caregiver to a loved one with pressure injuries who has faced many challenges securing the appropriate wound care – says, “I’m thrilled to hear there’s a new program to target the gaps in skills and knowledge relating to wound care in our current health-care system. The Wound Care Champion Program is exactly what is needed to ease the burden of care that often falls to caregivers such as myself. I encourage all health-care providers who are eligible to take this opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills.”
Wounds Canada and RNAO look forward to the successful launch of the WCCP, and hope to expand the program to regulated health professionals working in other health sectors and to other provinces and territories. This will help build wound care communities across Canada and prioritize interprofessional collaboration. It's time to start building a health system in which wound education is a vital component of every regulated health professional’s knowledge and skills.
To learn more about the WCCP or to apply for one of the 200 funded registrations for regulated health professionals working in Ontario, please visit the Wound Care Champion Program webpage.
Established in 1995, Wounds Canada is a charitable organization dedicated to the advancement of wound prevention and management for all people in Canada. We accomplish this by advocating for a population health approach that promotes best practices to support persons at risk of or living with wounds, health decision makers and frontline clinicians. We develop and provide educational programs and resources as well as support research to further advance this holistic, risk-based approach. We foster relationships with interested individuals and organizations to expand and sustain a robust wound community in Canada that also has mutually beneficial global connections. Our goal is to reduce the prevalence and incidence of wounds of all types and the negative consequences they bring—including patient suffering and wasted health-care dollars. To learn more, visit www.woundscanada.ca. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @WoundsCanada.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
RNAO’s best practice guidelines (BPG) program is funded by the Ministry of Health. It was envisioned by CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun in 1998 and launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across all health sectors and settings. The more than 50 guidelines developed to date represent a substantial contribution towards building excellence in Ontario’s health system. The Best Practice Spotlight Organizations (BPSO) support service and academic institutions that have formally agreed to implement multiple RNAO BPGs over a three-year period, and evaluate their impact on patients, organizations and health systems. Launched in 2003, the BPSO designation has spread widely with more than 1,000 BPSOs in Ontario, Canada and internationally.
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