All You Need to Know About Working Alongside Nurses

Unregulated care providers (UCPs) refer to a group of healthcare providers who are held accountable to their employers only and not to an external professional body such as traditional healthcare providers (i.e. nurses, doctors, etc.). This can include personal care providers for private residents in their homes as well as a wide variety of facilities. Personal Support Workers (PSW) are considered unregulated care providers.

We’re going to address two areas of interest-based on the regulations listed in the College of Nurses of Ontario’s document on working with unregulated care providers (2013).

What do UCPs need to know about working with nurses?

Nurses are highly trained to provide medical care for their patients/clients, so they see two priorities when working alongside UCPs:

protecting their patients and protecting their licenses. 

Although both UCPs and nurses commonly answer up the chain of command to their employers, nurses must also answer to a strictly regulated professional body.  In other words, don’t take nursing oversight of your job-related duties too personally.

Nurses are expected to teach, to assign duties, and to supervise on-the-job duties performed by UCPs.This means UCPs are to be in regular contact with qualified nurses in order to ensure the safety of their patients/clients. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy working relationship in order to expand your own skill-set and to provide your clients/patients with the best services possible.

What are the duties of a UCP?

As mentioned previously, UCP duties cover a wide range of services depending on the employment agency, the relationship between the UCP and the patient (because family members can qualify as UCPs), and the unique medical conditions and needs of the patient. Duties may include any or all of the following:

  • Assisting with activities of daily living (showers, dressing, toileting, hygiene routines, etc.)
  • Assisting with exercise routines
  • Administering medications and collecting specimens
  • Taking regular vital signs
  • Providing counseling services
  • Assisting with functional transfers

This is just a handful of examples of UCP duties, but it is essential to remember that any duty carried out must be overseen by a qualified nurse. In addition, nurses can also provide training and delegated controlled acts of care to UCPs when certain situations call for it.

This includes 3 areas of controlled acts listed in the College of Nurses of Ontario document which all involve invasive-type procedures:

  • performing procedures below the dermis or mucous membrane,
  • administering substances by injection or inhalation, or
  • placing an instrument of any kind in any orifice of the body (including a finger).

According to nursing standards, there should be no circumstance in which nurses can safely assume that UCPs can safely carry out duties with their patients without training and supervision. This should not be viewed as a poor reflection on you and your capabilities. 

In the end, this symbiotic relationship between nurses and UCPs is all about promoting one goal: the safety and well-being of all patients/clients.

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Avlin is passionate about helping aspirants become better personal support workers. He is an entrepreneur and runs a clinic in Toronto.

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