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

(UPDATED March 25, 2022)

(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.


What are Alberta Health’s current public health actions?

The Government of Alberta’s current public health planscan 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 COVID-19 vaccination in Alberta?

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

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

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

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


Can LPNs administer COVID-19 vaccines?

An LPN is authorized to administer vaccines for immunization to clients 5 years of age and older. An LPN must ensure that they have the knowledge, skill, judgment, and competencies related to the concepts and principles of immunity, communicable disease control, immunization, as well as legislative and reporting requirements. LPNs who graduated from an Alberta practical nursing program prior to June 2022 or from another jurisdiction may require additional training or education before administering immunizations. Please find more information here:

www.clpna.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/doc_CLPNA_Standards_of_Practice_Restricted_Activities_Advanced_Practice.pdf


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 self-assessment tool to help determine whether you, as an LPN, should be tested for COVID-19:

https://myhealth.alberta.ca/journey/covid-19/Pages/HWAssessLanding.aspx

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 additional rehabilitation information and resources:

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


What do I, as an LPN, need to know about public health orders?

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.

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

Order 6 was released in February 2022, updating operational guidance and testing requirements for health care workers in licensed supportive living, long-term care, and hospice settings:

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/cmoh-order-06-2022

Order 6 contains an exemption to the operational guidance that allows individuals who recently came into contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 to enter a healthcare facility for an end-of-life visit:

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/cmoh-order-06-2022-compassionate-exemption-urgent-end-of-life-visitation

Healthcare workers in licensed supportive living, long-term care, and hospice settings are now permitted to work in multiple sites as outlined in order 5:

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/cmoh-order-05-2022

However, restrictions remain for healthcare workers who are not fully vaccinated to working in a single site as per order 7:

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/cmoh-order-07-2022

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


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 6-2022 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.

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/cmoh-order-06-2022

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 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.