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The Glace Bay long term care facility is customizing programs to create a safety culture that works.
It takes a team to catch on to new safety procedures and make them stick. But at Seaview Manor, a long-term care facility in Glace Bay, it wasn’t just about the catch – they took the ball and ran with it.
Wayne MacAulay, Director of Environmental Services and JOHSC Chair, and Mae Smith, PT Assistant and JOHSC Co-Chair, say that it all started with Jim LeBlanc and Blaise Mac Neil from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education. During a visit to the facility, Jim explained the importance of a proper lift and transfer program which would help reduce the number of musculoskeletal injuries for workers. Wayne and Mae decided to look more carefully at their current safety practices, starting with slings, then moving on to equipment and full hands on training.
“We were looking at one of our slings, and we found the label was worn off,” Wayne recalls. “We wanted to make sure all the slings were up to standard, so we started to form a plan. This plan involved a total review of every sling in the facility. We then brought the OH&S committee together to help develop the PACE yourself with CARE program we now have.”
The JOHSC soon realized that all departments would have to be involved in this safety initiative, from when sling inspections would occur to establishing who would be responsible to inspect them and remove the failed ones from service. This became a team effort by all departments.
The project starts in laundry. Using a checklist developed by the JOHSC team, workers are able to inspect the slings as they come through, removing ones that are damaged or unsuitable. From there, nurses and care staff continually check slings before, during, and after use.
“It took a lot of work to set up but very little to maintain the program. Once the routines were established and staff got use to the inspection process, fifty slings were cycled out of service right away,” Mae says. “It turned into a chain reaction. As people saw small changes taking place, they started to bring their own safety suggestions forward.”
Safety practices advanced to include new policies and technologies. Staff are now able to use tablets to log hazards they encounter such as a faulty lift, bed repairs or any other safety concerns that may arise. Safety issues are top priority for all maintenance workers and any concerns are addressed immediately.
“As part of the PACE program, if I went in to use a lift and the lift was not working, I would tag it with a sticker and put it out of service. I would then log that tagged lift into a tablet for repair,” Wayne explains.
New staff now receive OH&S training that involves hands-on practice with the PACE program, a point of care assessment tool for the health and social services sector. Training includes ceiling and floor lifts, resident transfers, lifting techniques and body mechanics, and is overseen by Colette Smith, the in-house physiotherapist. All staff must sign that they fully understand the training they received.
“Every department knows what PACE is, everyone uses it in some way,” Mae emphasizes. “For instance, dietary services may not have to perform physical lifts, but they do have to know how to assess the environment and the resident when entering a room.”
By integrating safety into the day-to-day routine, all staff at Seaview Manor help to contribute to a culture of safety. Whether it’s preventing slips on newly cleaned floors, asking for help with a difficult lift or reminding coworkers to pace themselves, employee input continues to shape daily operations across the organization
“If someone comes to us and says ‘Can we do things this way to make it safer’, we don’t put it off,” Wayne says. “We say ‘Show us’ and then we make it possible.”
Seaview Manor’s JOHSC, (left to right) Mae Smith, Craig Clements, Carrie Holder, Cathy MacDonald, Wayne MacAulay, Jocelyn Budden-Lee, Perry Bartlett