DANA – Still Going Strong
In 1982 a group of hospital-based drug and alcohol nurses came together to assist NSW Health prepare a document, ‘ Teaching Guidelines and Resource Material for the Nurse Education Package’. Through this project the realisation grew that there was a need to provide support to fellow Drug and Alcohol nurses, and to all nurses, in relation to drug and alcohol issues in their workplaces.
By late 1983 those same nurses, now called Drug and Alcohol Nurse Advisory Committee (DANAC), developed aims and a plan to attract membership. In 1984 an association was formed and the ‘Drug and Alcohol Nurses Association’ was created.
Concord Hospital in Sydney, NSW was the venue for DANA’s first Annual General Meeting held in 1985. There were thirteen attendees and four apologies. Anna Wilson was elected the first Chair. The annual membership fee was $20. There were fourteen members.
In October the same year the ‘Inaugural Workshop for Nurses in Drug and Alcohol’, sponsored by NSW Health, was held in Sydney. Forty-eight nurses attended. A direct outcome of this event was the formation of a conference committee with the aim of having an annual Drug and Alcohol meeting, seminar or conference.
The first conference took place in 1987 with Helena Novak the first Chair. Meredith Adams followed and remained in the role for eleven years.
Inspired by Chris Shanley, the DANA President at the time, DANA made a move to an International hotel for the 1992 conference. Despite the organising committee’s worries about the financial commitment, ultimately DANA came away with a small surplus on the event.
Then, as now, the Conference Committee aimed to:
- Organise a great education event with cutting edge information;
- Provide opportunities for networking;
- Arrange great food and wine.
An annual conference has been held ever since 1987 until the present day.
As DANA grew, links were made with nurses across Australia and New Zealand resulting in a name change. The ‘Drug and Alcohol Nurses Association’ became the ‘Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia’.
Support Service for Nurses
Nurses are not immune to substance misuse problems. In June 1993 DANA launched the ‘Support Service for Nurses with Substance Misuse Problems’. DANA nurses provided telephone support to those nurses who contacted the service. This service was later incorporated into another agency.
Communication with members has always been a priority for DANA. ‘DANA News’ was the first publication. Some past issues of DANA newsletters and publications are still available on request. ‘DANA News’ was ultimately replaced by ‘DANA Unwrapped’, an annual hard copy summary of the previous year’s events. The advent of social media has allowed for greater ease of, and more frequent, communication with DANA members today.
DANA went on-line in 1998, and today has an extensive social media presence through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
2000 and beyond…
DANA Specialist Standards and Competencies
A core group of DANA members recognised the importance of developing standards and competencies in drug and alcohol nursing. Largely driven by Queensland DANA members, Margo Hickman and Lynda Scott, a workshop, ‘What is Advanced Practice in Drug and Alcohol Nursing?’ was convened in 2009 to define standards for an advanced level of practice. The ultimate outcome of the collaboration between the thirty-eight workshop participants was a submission to DANA to endorse the development of national standards and competencies that would define:
- practice levels between beginning, advanced and nurse practitioner;
- the advanced practice role in drug and alcohol nursing;
- education, competency and qualification levels.
Following the 2009 Conference, the DANA Standards Expert Reference Group (SERG) committee formed to lead progression of the initiative born from the workshop. The SERG committee was comprised of members from Australia and New Zealand:
- Rosalyn Burnett – Victoria;
- Prof. Charlotte de Crespigny – South Australia;
- Dr Daryle Deering – New Zealand;
- Tonina Harvey – New South Wales;
- Margo Hickman – Queensland;
- Louise Leonard – New Zealand;
- Janice Ough – South Australia.
The SERG committee set immediately to work:
- reviewing and updating a material already available;
- establishing an expert panel for advice and feedback;
- undertaking an international literature search (which revealed very few relevant documents).
Focus groups and surveys, including telephone surveys, of drug and alcohol nurses throughout New Zealand and each State and Territory of Australia were organised. Two hundred and sixteen nurses, mostly DANA members, contributed.
These standards, the results of international collaboration, were the first of their kind.
With the information gained through research, surveys and focus groups, the SERG committee developed the DANA Specialist Nursing Standards and Competencies document, which was released in 2012.
The standards documents are available here.
A more detailed document outlining the development of the DANA Standard and Competencies is available on request to DANA members. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pathways to Credentialling and Advanced Certification: Journey to Excellence
Responsive to the needs of DANA members, the DANA Pathways to Credentialling / Advanced Certification Program was officially introduced in November 2013.
It is open to registered nurses with Drug and Alcohol experience and expertise, and to DANA members and non-members alike.
‘Credentialling’, or ‘Advanced Certification’ as it is known in New Zealand, is an evaluation of a nurse’s experience, educational preparation, and ongoing professional development against a
set of established standards.
An independent Credentialling Advisory Committee, comprised of experienced Drug and Alcohol Nurses, assesses applications against the credentialling / advanced certification criteria. Successful applicants are awarded a Credential as a Drug and Alcohol Nurse (CDAN) on Advanced Certification as an Addiction Nurse (ACAN) by the DANA Management Committee.
Full details about DANA Pathways to Credentialling / Advanced certification are available here.