Common Questions on LPN Practice during COVID-19: Info Sheet

(UPDATED October 22, 2021)

(The following is a plain text version of the CLPNA’s Info Sheet: Common Questions on LPN Practice during COVID-19. To download the PDF version, click below:)

General COVID Info

For current general CLPNA info about COVID-19, see:

RELATED – Alberta Health Updates for Regulated Health Professionals on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

RELATED – Alberta Nursing Regulator’s Statement on High Volume Vaccination Clinics


Common Questions on LPN Practice during COVID-19: Info Sheet (Plain Text Version)

The legislative mandate of the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) is to serve and protect the public by ensuring its members deliver safe, competent, and ethical nursing care.

INTRODUCTION

The College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) understands that licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are an integral part of the COVID-19 pandemic response and must be informed about how the pandemic might impact their practice. This document provides up-to-date information and will be reviewed weekly and updated as required.

The CLPNA recommends that LPNs remain informed about COVID-19. It is important that LPNs continue to follow infection prevention and control (IPC) requirements and appropriately use personal protective equipment (PPE) to aid in protecting public health. The World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada provides information about IPC and use of PPE.

For information about COVID-19 more generally please see the COVID-19 FAQ Info Sheet:


What are Alberta Health’s current public health actions?

The Government of Alberta announced temporary measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system. More information can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx.

Province-wide restrictions may vary over the course of the pandemic, and Albertans should continue to follow municipal and site-specific guidance.


Where can I find information about the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Alberta?

All Albertans aged 12+ are eligible for both doses of the vaccine. Some groups may also be eligible for a third dose of the vaccine. Information about vaccines and vaccine records can be found here:

https://www.alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine.aspx

The Government of Alberta provides further information about approved vaccines here:  

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/covid-19-vaccine-questions-and-answers

For information to support conversations about vaccine hesitancy, the Alberta Government has provided resources that can be found in the above link under the vaccine safety section.

The government of Alberta has a dedicated webpage on providing information of facts and myths around COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine myths and facts | Alberta.ca

Additionally, the Canadian Paediatric Society offers for purchase the following learning opportunities on vaccine hesitancy.

https://pedagogy.cps.ca/#/course-bundles/fa04fc8b-475f-49fb-9a5f-53a147e37050

https://pedagogy.cps.ca/#/course-bundles/f5ebfc0f-4f2f-4746-b71d-9d2e1b978026


What circumstances require me as an LPN to self-isolate? When can I return to work? What if I’m not exhibiting any symptoms?

The Government of Alberta provides updates on isolation and quarantine requirements. Please find more information here:

https://www.alberta.ca/isolation.aspx.

Please use this Government of Alberta Self-Assessment tool to help determine whether you, as an LPN, should be tested for COVID-19:

https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/COVID-19-assessment-tool-for-health-care-workers-and-public-health-enforcement.pdf

The federal government may require that all travelers returning from travel outside of Canada self-isolate and monitor for symptoms depending on their vaccination status.

Please see https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-travel-advice.aspx for up to date information about isolation requirements.

AHS has also provided the following resources for healthcare providers:

Please check with your employer for their daily fitness to work requirements and return to work requirements.

The CLPNA appreciates that LPNs understand it is their professional responsibility to monitor their health and to self-isolate if required.


What rehabilitation resources are available for people experiencing long term COVID-19 symptoms?

COVID-19 may lead to long term health effects. A provincial rehabilitation response framework is available to support healthcare providers determine the appropriate rehabilitation responses for patients. The report is available at: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/ppih/if-ppih-covid-19-post-covid-rehab-response-framework-summary.pdf.

AHS provides two webpages with additional rehabilitation information and resources:

https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17397.aspx

https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17540.aspx

AHS has a rehabilitation advice line that can be reached at 1-833-379-0563. For more information about the rehabilitation advice line please visit:https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/findhealth/Service.aspx?id=1080775&serviceAtFacilityID=1126573


What do I, as an LPN, need to know about public health orders and guidance on working at multiple sites and public visits?

For all public health orders regarding COVID-19 from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, please visit:

https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-orders-and-legislation.aspx

LPNs are required to be aware of and adhere to any public health orders related to their specific work setting.

For additional information about restrictions for Albertans please see: https://www.alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx

AHS frequently updates guidance on visitation for inpatient and outpatient services in AHS facilities. Please find this information here:

https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17001.aspx

The Minister of Health released Ministerial Order 631 in May 2020. The accompanying news release indicates that LPNs may perform contact tracing after receiving training. The order and news release can be found here:

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/ministerial-order-631-2020-health

https://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=71274089430F9-9D0B-298D-C1FD6ADC622E7847

Order 37 was released in July 2021, updating operational guidance for licensed supportive living, long-term care, and hospice settings:

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/cmoh-order-37-2021

Visitation guidance, which was previously outlined in a standalone order, is included in order 37.

Further to the changes in order 37, guidance on working at a single site is now outlined in a standalone order 38:

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/cmoh-order-38-2021

Effective October 25, Order 37 is amended by Order 49 with additional public health guidance.

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/cmoh-order-49-2021


Can I, as an LPN, collect a nasopharyngeal swab to test someone for COVID-19?

Collecting nasopharyngeal swabs is within LPN scope of practice, authorized under section 13(1)(a) of the Licensed Practical Nurses Profession Regulation. LPNs may insert or remove instruments, devices, fingers, or hands beyond the point in the nasal passages where they normally narrow. For questions related to LPN scope of practice please refer to the Competency Profile for Licensed Practical Nurses and the Standards of Practice on Restricted Activities and Advanced Practice.


Can I, as an LPN, refuse to work with a patient that has suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

Unless you are required to self-isolate as outlined by the Government of Alberta you are still expected to report to work. Please see https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx for up-to-date information on self-isolation requirements.

When there is a conflict between your professional obligation to a patient and your personal obligations you have the professional responsibility to ensure the patient receives the best care possible. The CLPNA encourages all LPNs to review the following documents to ensure you understand the professional expectations you have as an LPN:

If you are unable to care for your patient, you are required to transfer care of the patient to an appropriate provider. The CLPNA acknowledges that LPNs continue to support the safe and competent care of patients.


Where can I find information about personal protective equipment (PPE)?

Order 37-2021 states healthcare providers working in licensed supportive living, long-term care, and hospice settings are required to wear a mask or other PPE as part of routine practice.

The Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services recommends that all healthcare providers wear a surgical or procedural mask continuously in other healthcare settings. Employers may have specific PPE requirements for their employees.

Alberta Health Services provides the following website which compiles the most up-to-date information about PPE and COVID-19, including a tool to direct use of appropriate PPE for Aerosol-Generating Medical Procedures:

https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17048.aspx


Can my employer extend my shift?

Healthcare providers may be asked to work extended hours to meet the demands of the healthcare system. If an LPN has any concerns or questions about extended hours, they are encouraged to have a discussion with their employer or contact their union.

Additionally, when working extended hours, it is part of the LPN’s professional responsibility to assess their fitness to practice.


What resources are available to me as an LPN if I’m redeployed to a different practice area?

During this time, you may be asked to work in an area of practice that you do not regularly work in. The CLPNA appreciates that as an LPN you are flexible in practice and understand you have the professional responsibility to provide care within your scope of practice.

Your employer may provide some additional training or orientation to equip you with the skills needed to perform tasks in that area.

Additionally, the CLPNA has learning modules available through your myCLPNA.com login that will support LPN knowledge, skills, and competence to prepare for possible redeployment.

If you feel you require additional training and education related to redeployment, please discuss with your employer or seek support from an experienced colleague.


As a self-employed LPN, what do I need to know?

Nurses in self-employed practice can find information about PPE, including obtaining of supplies for their business, on the Government of Alberta Biz Connect and Alberta Emergency management webpages:

https://www.alberta.ca/biz-connect.aspx

https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-emergency-management-agency.aspx


Do I, as an LPN, have any professional obligations to report unsafe practice?

LPNs have a professional obligation and duty to report unsafe practice or other unprofessional conduct under any circumstances in accordance with the Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics, the Health Professions Act, and other relevant legislation.

The CLPNA encourages all LPNs to review following documents to ensure they understand the professional expectations you have as an LPN:

Another Healthcare Provider

Under section 1.1(1) of the Health Professions Act (HPA) and standard 1.5 of the Standards of Practice for Licensed Practical Nurses in Canada, LPNs are expected to report unprofessional conduct considered dangerous to the health of the public. If you become aware of another healthcare provider not adhering to mandatory or site-specific public health advisories, then you should inform a medical officer of health, the employer, or the respective regulatory college.

A Patient

The CLPNA appreciates LPNs efforts in continuing to educate patients about COVID-19. If you become aware that a patient is not following mandatory or site-specific public health advisories despite being educated about these advisories, then you should consider your professional obligations for reporting to the employer or a medical officer of health under section 1.1(1) of the HPA and standard 1.5 of the Standards of Practice for Licensed Practical Nurses in Canada.


As an LPN what do I need to know about virtual nursing care during COVID-19?

Virtual nursing care involves providing nursing services over the phone or other means that involve information technologies (e.g. Zoom or Skype).

The CLPNA supports LPNs in providing virtual nursing care to patients residing in Alberta or to a patient under the care of an Alberta physician. When providing practical nursing care virtually, LPNs are expected to follow all standards of practice and the Code of Ethics. If you are engaging in virtual nursing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, please also refer to and follow any additional employer requirements.

Additionally, LPNs must be familiar with the principles for appropriate use of social media and how they apply to the delivery of virtual nursing care. Please see the Social Media: e-Professionalism document for further details:


As an LPN, is there any information at the federal level that I need to be aware of?

The Government of Canada includes the followings webpages for information on COVID-19 generally and specifically for health professionals:

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals.html

Health Canada in partnership with Thrive Health has created the Canada COVID-19 app. You can find this app for iPhone, Android, or Web platforms at:

https://www.thrive.health/canada-covid19-app

This app is a central resource for accessing personalized, trusted, evidence-informed information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 19, Health Canada issued several exemptions to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and its regulations. This change allows LPNs to receive telephone or verbal orders from physicians, pharmacists, or nurse practitioners to provide and deliver a controlled substance to a patient if required.  For further information please see:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-concerns/controlled-substances-precursor-chemicals/policy-regulations/policy-documents/section-56-1-class-exemption-patients-pharmacists-practitioners-controlled-substances-covid-19-pandemic.html

CONCLUSION

The CLPNA is working with Alberta Health and other external stakeholders to communicate up-to-date information relevant for LPN practice. Your employer will provide additional information specific to your practice setting or facility. The CLPNA will update this document as appropriate.

The CLPNA appreciates that LPNs are committed to practicing in a manner that ensures public safety and quality of care.


QUESTIONS?

For more information, please contact:

Email the CLPNA’s Professional Practice Team

Ask CLPNA or call 1-800-661-5877 (toll-free in Alberta), or 780-484-8886.