By Marilou Gagnon / Journal of Mental Health and Addiction Nursing
Background and Objective: Supervised consumption sites (SCS) have been implemented in Europe, North America and Australia, reaching a total of 158 sites worldwide. In addition to reducing harms and preventing overdoses and overdose deaths, SCS act as a point of service for people who use drugs to access much needed health care services. Registered nurses who work in SCS provide care, support, education, and resources to reduce health risks and improve health. It has been clearly established that these interventions fall within the legislated scope of practice of registered nurses but the actual role of nurses in SCS remains poorly defined and understood, especially by decision-makers, employers, health care providers, and the broader community.
Material and Methods: To address this significant practice, policy and research gap, a consensus statement was developed based on information generated by 17 content experts from 10 countries namely, Canada, Spain, Australia, France, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, and Scotland. The statement was developed from “the ground up” by gathering information on three content areas: nursing practice in SCS, training, and needs. This information was summarized, and then submitted to two rounds of voting using a modified Delphi method to build consensus.
Results: The final content of the consensus statement is comprised of five sections: 1) Philosophy of care, 2) Framework, 3) Nursing role, 4) Training requirements, and 5) Needs of nurses.
Conclusion: This consensus statement is a first step toward a better understanding of the role of nurses in SCS. There is an immense responsibility on nurses in this setting, as the majority of people who access SCS face many barriers in accessing other health and social services, even when their need for those services may be critical. For these reasons, it is essential to better prepare nurses for these realities. It is our hope that this first international consensus statement can serve as a foundation to guide practice, policy, research, and operational decisions in SCS.