Roadmap Project

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

The ACORN Roadmap Project (RMP) continues to progress 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 July 2021

Since the last report, ACORN has continued to work closely with its member consultants and volunteers to further develop the Professional Practice Standards for Perioperative Nurses (PPSPNs) that will be published in May 2022.

On average, each PPSPN takes between 12 to 16 weeks from drafting to being ready for ACORN board review and approval, after revision, as necessary. This brief report provides an upper level overview of the stages and processes of each of the development stages.

The first stage is confirmation that a proposed standard aligns with the needs of Australia's perioperative nursing profession. For the 2022 PPSPNs this has involved discussion with and confirmation from the Professional Workstream Team (WST), in the first instance, and preliminary discussion with the National Leadership Group (NLG) to seek their views of how a specific standard sits within the context of the larger Australian nursing community and its relationship to relevant professional instruments such as those published by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

The second stage requires ACORN's Standards Manager to do a detailed review of related public policy and recently published research relating to the topic addressed in the draft standard. ACORN is fortunate to be currently working with an external consultant, Carollyn Williams, who has extensive experience and deep understanding of the historic and current professional and practice issues impacting perioperative nurses. To complement Carollyn's historical viewpoint and to ensure ACORN's eventual PPSPNs are future-proofed ACORN is fortunate to also have Michelle Hibberson, a mid-career, currently clinically-based perioperative nurse, who is working closely with Carollyn to ensure the PPSPNs meet the needs of current perioperative nurses and practice.

Once the drafts are finalised they are submitted to the Professional WST for a two-week review period. Changes suggested by the WST are further reviewed by the ACORN Standards Manager and, where needed, included before the next draft is provided to the NLG. The NLG also has a two-week review period. Their comments are subsequently reviewed and, where they improve the draft, edits made. The NLG Chair is further consulted and on their direction ACORN then provides the draft to members and key stakeholders for a one-month comment period. Comments from the public consultation are reviewed and discussed in detail with the standard writers, the WST and the NLG before the NLG finalises a draft for submission to the ACORN board for pre-approval consideration.   

Three PPSPNs are now almost ready for board consideration and five of the likely eight nursing role PPSPNS are almost progressed to the first WST review stage.  

This considerable body of work is proceeding in tandem with the drafting and review of 14 Standards for Safe and Quality Care in the Perioperative Environment (SSQCPEs). It is an exciting and highly productive phase of development for the ACORN Standards. All at ACORN are committed to bringing the best ever set of ACORN Standards to the profession. We believe this Standards milestone is a perfect fit with ACORN's ‘Moving to a golden future’ – the theme of the national conference scheduled for May 2022 on Queensland's Gold Coast. Until then it's time to keep on drafting, reviewing, producing and approving. Please follow our journey via ACORN's socials, its website and in carefully timed electronic direct mailouts.

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 2020–2022 Board Chair, 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 board chair 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