Carol Mae Acton
Carol Acton (1944-2021) was born in Strathroy, Ontario and graduated from the Victoria Hospital School of Nursing in London Ontario in 1966. After moving to Vancouver, she worked at St. Paul’s Hospital as staff nurse and head nurse on surgical units. She advanced her career, completing both an undergraduate (BSN 1974) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) at UBC. She then became Director of Care at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. She went on to UBC hospital as a Patient Services Manager for the medical units and then moved to VGH.
In 1999, she became the first Patient Services Manager for the ACE (Acute Care for Elders) Units at VGH. The ACE journey began when Carol led a restructuring process that changed three Family Practice Units (64 beds and more than 100 staff), to become the Subacute Medical unit and the ACE unit. She established an ACE Committee where staff could share ideas about the new unit. She inspired people to join in an innovative approach that was based on research and shared purpose. Through the ACE Committee, Carol moved towards greater involvement in decision-making and fostered collaboration between nursing, medicine and the interdisciplinary team. Each person felt valued for their contribution. She actively demonstrated that using a collaborative approach contributes to quality, patient-centred care. She led the ACE Committee towards a consensus in a philosophy and mandate. At that time, this was almost revolutionary! Carol supported the team to work towards the shared outcomes by trusting the process. Despite challenges, Carol remained positive while supporting, respecting and assisting each nurse to make a decision regarding work schedule based on their values and best interests. She cared deeply for the individual circumstances of all nurses and did everything she could to help them with their concerns while, at the same time, upholding professional standards and collective agreements. She was committed to the value of each nurse, the quality of work-life, and professional nursing practice. She also had a great sense of humour which she used effectively to lighten a situation and to convey appreciation. The ACE unit remains today, a model for elder care in Canada and around the world and it is a genuine tribute to Carol’s nursing legacy. Carol retired in 2002.
Funded by a bequest from Carol’s estate, the Carol Acton Bursary was added the RNFBC portfolio in 2023.