Members are obliged to advise their clients if they intend to close, sell or relocate their practice. Notice should be given well in advance, or as soon as is reasonably possible. The purpose is to provide time for clients to seek alternate services. Direct notice is best (in person at a scheduled appointment, by letter, or by telephone). If this is not possible, multiple forms of indirect notice should be used, such as posting a notice at your office, in a newspaper, on one’s website, or providing a recorded voice message. Where possible, the member should assist the client in identifying alternative services.
Members must ensure that client records are transferred to the member’s successor (if there is one) or to another member if the client requests this. Client records that are not transferred should be retained or disposed of in a secure manner in accordance with the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 and the College’s recordkeeping and documentation standards.
Members should have in place a plan to address unforeseen interruptions to their practice, such as unplanned leave, illness or death and even natural disaster. These plans should promote continuity of client care and allow others to manage, transfer, or close a practice in the event that a member is unable to do so. The plan should include back-up and storage of contact lists and where possible, client records, directions for contacting clients or their authorized representatives and contact information for alternative service providers. If individuals (such as
clients or colleagues) become aware of an abandoned or interrupted practice, they should contact the College.
The Standard: Closing, Selling, or Relocating a Practice
A member provides adequate notice to clients when closing, selling, or relocating a practice, and complies with the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, as well as College regulations and policies.
Demonstrating the Standard
A member demonstrates compliance with the standard by, for example:
- when closing, selling, or relocating a practice, ensuring that notice is given well in advance or as soon as is reasonably possible;
- providing information to clients about alternative services;
- ensuring that the client’s records are transferred to the member’s successor or to another member, if the client so requests, or ensuring that each client’s records are retained or disposed of in a secure manner; having in place a contingency plan to promote continuity of care in the event of an unexpected interruption to one’s practice.
Note: College publications containing practice standards, guidelines or directives should be considered by all members in the care of their clients and in the practice of the profession. College publications are developed in consultation with the profession and describe current professional expectations. It is important to note that these College publications may be used by the College or other bodies in determining whether appropriate standards of practice and professional responsibilities have been maintained.