Before you begin working on a policy, you will need approval to proceed from the appropriate sponsor or initial approval body. If in doubt about who can provide approval, consult the Delegation of Policy Approvals or contact the Policy Office. The Policy Office requires written approval from the appropriate sponsor before we can begin working on any policy.
Planning is an essential part of the policy development process. Before you begin writing a policy, here are some things you should consider, and some resources to help you with each phase.
Nova Scotia Health's policy development process is laid out step by step in our policy development checklist. Find more information and resources for each stage of the development and writing process on this site.
Policy should be informed by the best available evidence, which means that research should be done early in the process. At Nova Scotia Health, some resources for conducting research include:
Part of your research should include looking at current policies and practices, both across the organization and externally.
Start by using the all site search function in OP3 to gather all of the policies that currently provide guidance on your policy issue. Look for the common themes across former DHA policies — this may provide a starting point for your document. The big differences in practice may help inform your education or communication plan for your policy.
It's important to keep a list of all of the policies you find related to your topic. If your policy is replacing any of them (and most Nova Scotia Health policies should be replacing at least one former DHA policy), we will need the list of policies to archive when yours is published. If your policy is related to any of them, we will need the list of policies to add to the Related Documents section. Some policies may even be partially replaced — talk to your Policy Lead to help navigate that process.
Contact your Policy Lead if you would like to request policies from across Canada. The Policy Office subscribes to a national network that shares information about health policy across the country.
Keep track of the sources you consult as you do your research. This will make it easier to add a reference list when you're ready to start writing your policy. The Policy Office follows APA style, and will help you to format your reference list.
Watch our APA Referencing video series for tips on formatting, and rules on what to include and what to leave out:
For a policy to be effective, the people it applies to need to know about it, and need to have the skills and resources required to comply with it. As you consider the direction you're setting in your policy, use these guidelines to help plan communication, education, and implementation.
Are you writing a brand new policy or revising one that has been around for a few years? Is your policy introducing a practice change? Does your audience have the skills needed to comply with the direction you're setting? Consider these questions when determining which level of policy you're creating.
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3|
|Policy users need to:||
|You will need to develop:||
Every policy needs to be communicated in some way to your target audience. The type of communication you need will depend on your audience's needs and whether your policy is Level 1, 2, or 3. When planning communication for your policy, consider these questions:
Use the templates linked below to help develop your communication plan, or develop tools of your own that meet your communication needs. If you need advice, or a more detailed plan, contact Nova Scotia Health Communications.
You may need to develop education to support your policy if you're introducing practice, behaviour, or culture changes. Consider these questions when planning how you will develop and deliver education:
Nova Scotia Health has a Learning Management System (LMS) that hosts all online education, and where you can add classroom workshops if you need a record of attendance and registration. Refer to these resources, standards, and guidelines for developing LMS courses to learn more.
If your policy introduces significant changes, or creates education or resource demands, consider developing an implementation plan. This will help you determine your timeline and identify resource needs. Ask yourself:
A thoughtful, well-developed implementation plan can help your policy succeed. Use the templates linked below to help develop your implementation plan, or develop tools of your own that meet your implementation needs.
The Policy Office uses this guide to ensure consistent style choices are made for all Nova Scotia Health policy documents. If you've ever wondered about when to use a numbered list in a policy, whether to use a serial comma, or when it's okay to use an acronym, take a look at our style guide for the answers.
The style used for writing policy at Nova Scotia Health is called technical writing.
Technical writing is direct, informative, clear, and concise language written specifically for an identified audience. The content must be accurate and complete with no exaggerations. To deliver the intended message, the text must be objective and persuasive without being argumentative.
Michigan State University. (2007). Technical writing guide.
When writing policy, think about your audience. Consider questions such as:
Every policy we write needs to be clear and accessible to the people who need to use it. Use these resources to help guide your writing process, and talk to us in the Policy Office early and often if you need guidance.
Definitions are an important part of a policy, so don’t ignore them. They perform two major functions: