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Launch of Canada’s first stroke care quality standards

The new province-wide quality standards, designed for patients, health-care professionals and organizations, focus on ensuring high-quality health care after a stroke leading to better health outcomes.
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Stroke Services BC staff at a team event.

​More than 10,000 British Columbians are admitted to hospitals following a stroke each year. Up to 80% of all strokes are preventable; despite this, stroke is the third-leading cause of death in Canada after cancer and heart disease. 

New provincial resources for improving stroke care are now available for use by all health-care providers, patients, their families and caregivers in British Columbia. Called Stroke Quality Standard, the printable online resource describe key aspects of high-quality stroke care throughout the province for people with stroke and their caregivers, health-care professionals and their organizations. 

What is a stroke? A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to any part of the brain, damaging brain cells. The effects of a stroke depend on the part of the brain that was damaged, and the amount of damage done.
Led by the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council (BCPSQC) and involving Stroke Services BC (SSBC), people with lived experience, Indigenous stakeholders and the Provincial Executive Stroke Steering Committee (ESSC), the Standard is the first of its kind in British Columbia – and across Canada. 

Stroke Services BC (SSBC), established in 2011, is a Health Improvement Network within PHSA that works with partners across the province to optimize outcomes for people who have had, or are at risk of having a stroke.
Why was stroke selected first to standardize care? Though it remains a leading cause of death and disability, in recent years, efforts to prevent and treat stroke are leading to improvements in stroke care and decreases in death and disability rates in B.C. The new Stroke Quality Standard provides a provincially coordinated approach to continuing this improvement by focusing on reducing variation in care received that cannot be explained by a patient’s condition or preferences.

Complete Standards to improve provincial stroke care 

Housed on BCPSQC’s website and available for download, SSBC is responsible for the implementation, monitoring and oversight of the Stroke Quality Standard. 

The Stroke Quality Standard guides health-care providers to improve the quality of care offered to people experiencing or living with stroke, increasing their chance of survival, maximizing their recovery and reducing their risk of another stroke. 

Quality standards are a key element in the Provincial Health Services Authority’s clinical policy framework that aims to improve the quality and consistency of care for identified topics or conditions. 
This Standard can be used in all health settings where people may seek care because they’re at risk of having a stroke, experiencing a stroke or recovering from a stroke. 

Nine quality statements focus on specific areas of the patient journey where improvement can lead to better health outcomes. They’re accompanied by indicators to measure progress and guide improvement work. The Standard serves to improve accessibility to stroke services, delivering care that is culturally safe and respectful. 

SSBC has also created a data and analytics strategy to monitor the impacts of implementing the Standards, through the measuring and reporting of key performance indicators to target improvement efforts that support stroke system quality outcomes.

Based on the results, the Standards will be revisited every three years by BCPSQC to review standards and revise (as needed) to ensure that all partners are focusing on areas that optimize patient outcomes. As well, lessons learned and outcomes will be evaluated and shared to support subsequent PHSA Clinical Policy, Planning and Partnerships programs.

Resource for people with experience of stroke and their families/caregivers

SSBC seeks to achieve health-system-wide partnership and engagement by integrating the Standard into regional and province-wide improvement work, and will be working with regional health authority partners to support implementation. 

A companion resource, called the Patient, Caregiver and Family Guide is available for people with stroke, as well as friends and family members who are involved as caregivers. This companion resource describes key aspects of high-quality stroke care and supports individuals to make informed decisions in partnership with their health-care teams.

For more information

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