Example / Template Policy
The introduction (or preamble) is a statement of what the policy is all about - in the simplest possible terms. There is no need to be too specific at this point, the aim of this section is to inform the reader as to whether this is the policy they are looking for, or to keep looking through the collection.
The policy is the main statement setting out what is required and how the organisation plans to do it. Decisions are made as to how specific the statement should be, and if outcome measures are to be included to determine whether the policy is working effectively, and how staff implement it.
Statement of responsibility
A statement of responsibility defines to whom the policy applies. Does it apply to all staff members or only nurses? Does it apply to all sections within the department or only one section; e.g. a community service attached to an in-patient facility? A general principle is that policies, when appropriate, should apply to as many people in the organisation as possible.
Policies cannot be written and adopted by anybody; they need to be authorised by the appropriate person or committee. Usually, voices are authorised by management. The chairperson of the board, who might not be legally accountable for such decisions, delegates authority to the chief executive officer.
Depending on the organisational structure (which in itself is another policy), policy authorisation might be delegatee to a committee or a particular person in a division or department. In these cases, it would only hold authority in that division of the organisation.
Dates of application and review
Over time, an organisation is likely to generate several ‘generations’ of policies and there must be some way of knowing which document is currently in force. For that reason, and because it is simply good practice to date documents, the date of authorisation and review must be stated.
Policies are living documents, constantly evolving to adapt to the conditions that affect organisations and frequently reviewed to ensure they reflect the current realities in health services.
Unlike academic publications, references in policy documents point not only to where material was derived but also to other sources that support the policy. For example, a medication policy might contain cross-references to the nursing board regulations, state government Acts that control medication administration, professional organisation statements on medication, National Mental Health Standards, accreditation standards and other policies and procedures within an organisation’s own framework. These references increase the authority of the policy.
Policy Document Format
A standardised format should be adopted organisation-wide. Some guidelines for a policy document format:
- Set up a blank/template file of the approved standardised style, including font style, font size, indents, margins, gutters and alignment rules.
- Define a ‘house style’ in respect to written conventions, spelling, formatting etc.; e.g. which dictionary to follow and the tone of expression (usually formal).
- Insert page numbers automatically.
- Include the author’s name, the file name, the pathway and set out all the above-required sections.