Nurses overwhelmed by other tasks

News 8 February, 2018
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    In NURSING, the nurse becomes “the pillar and administration,” of the institution, said the vice-president of the FIQ, Jerome Rousseau. “All that is technical management, logistics, rests on his shoulders “, he adds.

    Patrick Bellerose

    Thursday, February 8, 2018 00:00

    Thursday, February 8, 2018 00:00

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    Nurses spend only half of their working time to care, because they are overwhelmed with administrative tasks and work of housekeeping that should be done by other trades.

    In fact, only 53 % of their shift is dedicated to their field of expertise, according to figures provided by the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ). A situation that is ” not very desirable “, said its chair, Lucie Tremblay.

    “When one makes good use of the expertise of the nurse, it has positive results for the customers,” she said. She cites, for example, a reduction in medication errors, the number of falls and hospital-acquired infections.

    “Conversely, when we under-use the knowledge and skills of nurses, it has impact on job satisfaction, recruitment and retention of nurses “, said the president of the college.


    The words of the president of the OIIQ join the results of a study conducted by Philippe Voyer, professor at the Faculty of nursing sciences, Laval University, on the situation in NURSING homes.

    It was observed in a study published in 2016 that nurses spend 46 % of their work time to activities not clinical.

    The administrative duties occupy the major part of related activities of nurses in NURSING homes. They spend 18 % of the total time spent at work.

    These activities, written by the researcher, ” should normally be performed by a licensed practical nurse, a COP, [attendant to the beneficiaries] or, as another member of the care team “.

    However, 54% of the time devoted to their field of expertise, nurses have already seen an improvement compared to 2009, while they spent 45% of their working time.

    Related tasks

    Nurses in NURSING homes are responsible for a number of floors, points out Jérôme Rousseau, vice-president, organization of work and professional practice, Federation interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ).

    “Therefore, they must take care of the equipment orders, the revision of quotas, answer the phone, do clerical tasks, lists-t-it. These are things that have no relation with the clinical care given to patients. “

    The nurses at work

    Percentages of working time devoted to various categories of activities in a CHSLD

    Responsibilities of nurses:

    • Activities leader clinic: 22%
    • Evaluation and follow-up: 32%

    Activities that should be undertaken by another professional

    • Care technical: 8%
    • Administrative activities: 18%
    • Care assistance: 7%
    • Housekeeping: 2%
    • Functional activities: 4%
    • Time not allocated to: 7%

    Source : Voyer, P. (2016) ” healthcare Shortage or a shortage of nurses ? “, Perspectives in nursing.

    A situation is less pronounced in hospitals

    The problem of the related tasks is less pronounced in hospitals, where the nurses may rely on other professionals, stresses the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), the main trade union of nurses of Quebec.

    “We do not have precise data on the hospitals, but we know it exists anyway “, stresses Jérôme Rousseau, vice-president, organization of work and professional practice at the FIQ.

    For example, for a patient who is confused, which requires surveillance by a security officer, the nurse will need to ” fill out a form, send it to the care coordinator, who will make an assessment “. “It never ends,” said Jerome Rousseau. This is far from the care to the patient in these situations. “

    The situation varies a lot depending on the establishment. A nurse from the South Shore of Montreal, who requested anonymity, estimated that 50 % of his time is devoted to tasks which do not fall within his field of expertise. “I’ve never seen a workplace as disorganized “, she says.

    “The devices to the vital signs that do not save the data,” she says, although it must be noted that the data on post-it notes, and then go transcribe them in records at the position. “


    For the Order of nurses of Quebec, the ministry of Health needs to better assess the needs of patients to create care teams ” optimal “. “Well, we could use the full talent of everyone, because we want that the nurses devoted to provide nursing care,” she said.

    For his part, the representative of the FIQ, the solution by the addition of nurses. “When a patient has a complication, the nurse should be there, there is nobody else who can do it,” he says.