Policy

Want to learn more?

The Policy Office offers a few in-person sessions of Policy 101 per year. When there are sessions scheduled, we'll post the dates and locations here. Registration is done via LMS.

Sessions on demand

Contact us to request a Skype session of Policy 101. We require at least 10 participants to deliver a class.

Planning your policy project

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.


Policy Development Checklist

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.


Research and References

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:


Environmental Scan

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.


Citing your sources

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:

APA: Short Overview

Short Overview of APA from Nova Scotia Health Authority on Vimeo.

APA: Author Rules

Author Rules for APA

APA: Date Rules

Date Rules for APA

APA: Title Rules

Title Rules for APA

APA: Source Rules

Source Rules for APA


Communication, Education, and Implementation

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.

Consider the scope of the change

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 is:
  • Undergoing minor revision
  • Being reaffirmed
  • Undergoing major revision
  • New
  • Undergoing major revision
  • New
Policy users need to:
  • Keep doing what they've been doing (no changes required)
  • Review policy, and make appropriate changes to practice
  • Review policy, and learn the skills needed to make appropriate changes to practice
You will need to develop:
  • Simple communication plan to remind users the policy is in effect (email or other appropriate means)
  • Targeted communication plan to let users know the changes that will be required
  • Targeted communication/implementation plan to let users know the changes that will be required
  • Education to support new skill development

Communication

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:

  • Who needs to know? What's the best way to reach them? (And remember, not everyone has access to email or time to check it.)
  • Do they just need a link to the policy, or would a summary of key points be more helpful?
  • What would be the impact if someone isn't aware of the change?

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.


Education

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:

  • Who is the target audience? Is it mandatory that they complete this education?
  • Do you need evidence that the knowledge transfer was successful (e.g., attendees complete tests/quizzes or skill demonstrations)?
  • Is there any required certification or re-certification?
  • Does the education need to be delivered in person, or will it work online?

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.


Implementation

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:

  • Who needs to be involved in this policy rollout? Who needs to be informed or consulted?
  • What are the potential barriers to success? How can you mitigate them?
  • What needs to be developed to support implementation — forms, pamphlets, PPOs, audit tools?
  • Are there other policies being implemented at the same time?

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.

Templates and forms for policy development

Policy Development

Communication, Education, and Implementation

Lenses to apply to policy development

As you consider the direction your policy should take, there are a number of lenses that can be applied to help in your decision-making process. Use these resources to help you:

Writing the draft

Policy Office Style Guide

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.


Technical Writing

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:

  • Where will they be reading these documents — at a desk, a bedside, in a kitchen?
  • Do they all have the same knowledge and skills?
  • Do the terms you're using mean the same thing across professions?
  • How difficult or risky is the work? What level of stress are they likely to be under when turning to your policy?

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

Definitions are an important part of a policy, so don’t ignore them. They perform two major functions:

  • Make the developer’s intent clear to the reader, so there’s no confusion about interpretation.
    Are you certain everyone knows who “health care professionals” are, or that they are thinking about this the same way as you? The term “professional” is generally accepted to mean someone who is paid to perform a service, as opposed to an amateur. If it’s important that the reader knows who, in the context of your policy, is a “health care professional,” and it’s not defined, anyone who considers themselves a health care professional could reasonably assume the policy includes them.
  • Direct the reader on how to apply the policy.
    Definitions can provide important details on when or how to apply the policy. For example, the Travel policy defines “home base area” as within a 16-kilometre (10-mile) radius surrounding the actual building or other regular place of employment of the Team Member. According to the policy, employees cannot bill for meals within this radius. If it was undefined, neither the person filing the claim, nor the people expensing would be clear when a claim was justified.

Resources for Writing


Helpful videos about writing

What is Plain Language from Editors Canada

What is Plain Language

Technical Writing: How to Simplify Sentences

Technical Writing: How to Simplify Sentences

15 Technical Writing Tips

15 Technical Writing Tips

Succinct Writing

Succinct Writing