Roadmap Project

Roadmap to national recognition for ACORN’s Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia

Over 2020 the ACORN Roadmap Project (RMP) has progressed under the governance of the National Leadership Group (NLG). COVID-19 delayed progress; however, the combined efforts of ACORN member volunteers and academic, clinical and professional perioperative and health care sector leaders have enabled the RMP to gain momentum. The RMP timeline has been extended with ACORN expecting a final NLG RMP report including findings and recommendations by November 2021.

Update April 2021

During March, the four workstream teams (WSTs) have made significant progress, overseen by the National Leadership Group (NLG).

Business WST 

In early March 2021 ACORN provided the Business WST with a comprehensive report of historic and current data relating to ACORN standards subscribers, subscription models, pricing and uptake by the target groups. The Business WST has plans for additional interrogation of that data so that the eventual subscription options they recommend to ACORN will be sensitive to members' needs and preferences. Those options also need to assist ACORN as it continues to pursue the primary goals of the Roadmap Project (RMP) which are to:

  • encourage the uptake of ACORN’s standards for perioperative nursing among hospitals across Australia
  • support perioperative nurses in the provision of high quality perioperative nursing care and the safe management of perioperative environments and procedures in Australia. 

Clinical WST

The NLG has approved the final list of Standards for Safe and Quality Care in the Perioperative Environment (SSQCPEs) submitted by the Clinical WST. The SSQCPE of the next edition of the ACORN Standards will include fourteen, perioperative clinical topics. This is substantially fewer than the number of clinical topics in the current and previous editions and reflects the advice of the Clinical WST to the NLG that responsibility for guidance for specific perioperative activities now rests with alternate expert agencies including the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the National Health and Medical Research Council, federal and jurisdictional governments and Standards Australia. The Clinical WST's recommendations were thoughtful, balanced and future thinking. The team and ACORN very much look forward to members' and subscribers' feedback on the next edition of the ACORN Standards.

Professional WST

The NLG is currently reviewing the first of several Professional Practice Standards for Perioperative Nurses (PPSPNs) developed by the Professional WST. The team has finished drafting the Enrolled nurse PPSPN and the Registered nurse PPSPN and has engaged a small group of external perioperative nurse practitioners to assist with the drafting of the Nurse practitioner PPSPN. ACORN members should look forward to these new PPSPNs and, in particular, the inclusion of sets of unique ‘descriptors’. The descriptors provide examples of how a nurse would be expected to perform within the perioperative environment to meet the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia standards for practice. The descriptors are also exemplars of good practice. Perioperative nurses reviewing their practice in the future should do so against these descriptors. Practice review using the descriptors can support perioperative nurses by identifying gaps in practice and opportunities for learning. 

Research WST

The Research WST continue their comprehensive review of evidence regarding best practices in the development of standards. In addition Drs Duff, Gillespie, Murphy and Nicholson will also be working with ACORN and the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) to develop the research question using the PICO (population, intervention, comparison, outcome) framework and appropriate search terms  for the fourteen evidence summaries JBI is developing for ACORN. The Research WST has also kindly accepted a request from ACORN to briefly review each JBI evidence summary late in 2021.

The RMP's NLG remain fully committed to the RMP. Their individual and collective experience, diversity, knowledge and candour are invaluable to ACORN. Under the steadfast leadership of NLG Chair Deb Thoms, immediate past national Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, the NLG continues to advance the RMP and ACORN stakeholders should be excited as this major transformation of the historic ACORN Standards continues to evolve and take shape.

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Development of the Roadmap project

ACORN has been setting standards for perioperative nursing practice since 1980. These standards have gone through many incarnations and are currently published as Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia (the ACORN Standards) 2020 16th edition. We believe the ACORN Standards contribute to safe and quality perioperative care in public and private hospitals across Australia. Unfortunately, not all hospitals use them.

The ACORN Roadmap Project (RMP) is an ambitious multi-year project that seeks to promote the ACORN Standards nationally and broaden their reach and adoption in hospitals across Australia. The project team will engage with individuals, hospitals, universities, private sector businesses and government bodies to promote the adoption of the ACORN Standards and also seek to actively involve ACORN members in the task of raising awareness and increasing the uptake of the ACORN Standards.

In February 2019, the ACORN Board of Directors engaged an external consultant to assist with the development of the RMP.

In June  2019 the consultant  conducted a qualitative action research study composed of in-depth interviews with a range of internal and external stakeholders and compiled a report for the Board. The findings of the study showed that there is demonstrated need and sufficient scope for a project of this nature. ACORN officially launched the RMP at the inaugural Perioperative Leadership Summit in Canberra in September 2019. A design workshop with nearly 40 internal and external stakeholders was held in October 2019, in Sydney, to draft a National Action Plan to guide the project.

Leadership of the project

ACORN  recruited a group of six talented individuals to form the National Leadership Group (NLG) which will provide leadership, governance and oversight for the project. ACORN is honoured that Adjunct Professor Deb Thoms, former Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, has accepted the role of chair of the NLG. Other members include: Kathy Baker AM, Nurse Advisor, National Safety and Quality in Health Care (NSQHC); Allan Chapman, New South Wales State Manager, Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS); Associate Professor Christine Dennis, College of Business, Government and Law, Flinders University; Peter Roessler, Director of Professional Affairs, Australian New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA); Ruth Melville, former president, International Federation of Perioperative Nurses (IFPN) and ACORN, CNC Patient Safety and Quality – Perioperative & SCHHS Laser Radiation Safety Officer, Surgical Services, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, and Patricia Flood, ACORN 2020-22 President, ACORN. Rebecca East, ACORN's CEO, will represent ACORN staff  and provide strategic insight.  The NLG will operate in parallel to the ACORN board. The ACORN President and CEO will provide strong links back to the organisation. In February 2020 ACORN appointed Cath Murphy, ACORN Standards Manager as Project Manager to the RMP.

The NLG will oversee the work of four workstream teams (WSTs). Each WST will focus on specific issues relevant to promoting the ACORN Standards as reflected in their name. The WSTs include the Clinical Standards and Standard Setting WST, the Professional Standards and Training WST, the Research WST and the Business Model  WST. The WSTs will work over the course of 15 months to July 2021. WST Chairs and members are detailed on their respective web pages.

Objectives of the project

The Roadmap project is an important part of ACORN's 2019-2022 strategic plan. The project's objectives are to:

  • increase demand for standardised perioperative nursing care by boosting awareness of the ACORN Standards among perioperative nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists, hospital administrators, health care companies and insurers, government and the community
  • encourage the adoption of the ACORN Standards by fortifying the evidence base which underpins them
  • remove barriers to the adoption of the ACORN Standards by reviewing and refining the Standards and the process used to set them
  • establish ACORN’s Professional Standards as the minimum level of qualification for perioperative nursing by aligning them with the ACORN Standards
  • create opportunities to develop the next generation of perioperative nursing leaders
  • engage and grow the ACORN membership by demonstrating effective national leadership of the perioperative nursing profession.

The Roadmap to National Recognition for ACORN’s Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia is an exciting project that will push the ACORN Standards to the forefront of the minds of health care decision-makers nationally. We ask you as ACORN members to actively engage with the project and to consider what you can do to promote awareness of the Standards among your perioperative colleagues and encourage hospital management and decision-makers to adopt the Standards.

Project timeline

February 2019

The ACORN Board of Directors engaged a consultant, Randall Pearce from THINK: Insight and Advice, to assist with the development of a project that aims to deliver national recognition and uptake of Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia (the ACORN Standards).

June 2019

THINK: Insight and Advice conducted a qualitative action research study composed of 36 one-on-one, in-depth interviews with a range of internal and external stakeholders.

August 2019

The ACORN board reviewed the Roadmap Project Stakeholder Consultation Report and approved the budget for the project.

September 2019

ACORN formed the National Leadership Group to oversee the work of four workstream teams (WSTs).

ACORN launched the project on 5 September 2019 at the Perioperative Leadership Summit in Canberra.

October 2019

ACORN recruited representatives from all stakeholder groups. Representatives participated in a 

Design Workshop with National Leadership Group and future WST members held on 25 October 2019 in Sydney.

November 2019 - February 2020

The  2018-20 ACORN Board and NLG approve the RMP Action Plan.

February 2020

Inaugural meeting of the NLG. 

Feb - May 2020 ACORN prioriatises COVID-19, support and collaborations.
May 2020

ACORN releases new 16th edition of the ACORN Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia.

ACORN 2020-2022 President and Board of Directors commence terms of office.

Invited members of WSTs 1-3 recruited.

June - Aug 2020

The inaugural meetings of the WSTs are held. The teams meet no more frequently than every four to six weeks until September 2021.

Sept 2020 ACORN Board extend the RMP by at least 3 months.
Oct 2020 ACORN calls for expressions of interest to assist the RMP

April 2021

Evaluation of the project is carried out between 5 and 23 April 2021.

Nov 2021

The final evaluation report is delivered to the ACORN Board.

May 2022 ACORN Board and NLG present findings and recommendations at the 2022 ACORN Conference