When it comes to developing good policies, we’re all in this together

Angie Natingor | December 19th, 2017

Policy. I know it’s not the sexiest topic.

Case in point: a networking event. Someone asks, “What do you do?”

I reply enthusiastically, “I’m a Policy Advisor.”

The reaction is immediate and sadly, familiar. The eyes of the person who has asked glaze over while he frantically casts his gaze about, looking for an escape – any escape – from this conversation and this “Policy Advisor,” both of which are certain to be an ultimate *bore*.

I try to not take it personally. And I remind myself that not everyone feels this way, right?

I’m often baffled when colleagues assume policy is so dry, so awful. Is this because policy is inherently about rules and no one likes being told what to do? Or perhaps it is borne from a wariness we have of government, decisions being made by policy-makers that have not, in our humble opinion, resulted in much that is positive.

It’s true that compliance with policy is mandatory. It does often come from legislation and bylaws. But policy enables action and prescribes limits. It assigns responsibilities and accountabilities.

Here at VCH, subject matter experts create policy to provide guidance – to help us all do our jobs the best we can so that we can ensure we’re doing what is right for our patients, every single day.

But I can’t lie. Helping staff members create policy over the past few years, I can assure all of you that policy, in our organization, is definitely *not* sexy. VCH is large and complex, which can make our policy development processes intricate and complicated. But it’s this elaborate nature of policy-making that makes our policies tough. Rugged. Defensible.

Our policies undergo a rigorous process. They must be sponsored by leadership and, before approval will be granted, must pass inspection by our stakeholders. Policies are scrutinized, challenged – even sometimes refuted and rewritten during development and stakeholder review, if that is necessary. But the perspectives of our staff members, patients and families are vital to ensuring our policies are person- and family-centered, and reflect current evidence and best practices in the way we deliver care.

In short, it is the right and responsibility of stakeholders to speak up and let developers know how to make our policies better. And it is the responsibility of developers to pay attention. Better policy means clearer direction. And clearer direction means the best care for our patients.

You know what? Call me crazy, but I think that makes policy sexy. Well… a little bit, at least.

Interested in knowing more?

Want to learn more about our policy development process and how to engage patients and families in policy development? Join Belinda Boyd from Community Engagement and Angie Natingor from the Policy Office on January 24 at noon for the Lunch & Learn, “The Making of Person- and Family-Centred Policies.” To register, email feedback@vch.ca.

About the Author

Angie Natingor
email iconangie.natingor@vch.ca  

Angie Natingor is a Policy Advisor at Vancouver Coastal Health and an advocate for rigour in VCH policy development. Learn more about VCH's policy development process (internal link).

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