The Victorian Order Of Nurses 1897-Present
Victorian Order of Nurses

With the deinstitutionalization of health care, home care is becoming increasingly important. The Victorian Order of Nurses, known commonly as VON, has been able to fill that gap by offering health care to communities and individuals for well over a century. By providing a wide range services across the nation, VON is well on ts way to become a leader in providing community services and social needs.

external image lady_aberdeen.jpg
Lady Aberdeen
VON was founded in 1897 by Lady Aberdeen, the “wife Canada’s then governor-general” (VON Canada, 2009). VON received its name as a tribute to the anniversary of “Queen Victoria’s ascent to the throne of the British Empire” (VON Canada, 2009).
In 1896, while visiting Vancouver, Lady Aberdeen heard tragic stories of people living in rural Canada who had no access to health care services (VON Canada, 2009). Additionally, as the population in urban areas continued to grow, many found themselves without health care providers (VON Canada, 2009).
Lady Aberdeen was so effected by the stories of the many women and children who had died, or who suffered due to lack of healthcare services, that she decided to initiate a program where instead of people having to travel to find healthcare, nurses would travel to people’s homes to provide services (VON Canada, 2009). This may very well be considered the first community based health care service offered in Canada.
VON healthcare teams were first established in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver and Kingston and in 1898 a VON make shift hospital was set up in Regina to provide health care services for those living on the prairies and without access care (VON Canada, 2009).
It’s been over 100 years since VON has provided services to those in need. VON workers lent their services to many historical Canadian events including the “influenza epidemic in 1918, the great depression and two world wars” (VON Canada, 2009).

As a national not for profit, charitable, home and community organization, VON presently has 52 sites available across Canada. It is one of the largest, well known organizations offering homecare to the Canadian public. With over 13,000 staff and volunteers and a wide range of services, VON touches Canadian lives every day (VON Canada, 2009). The VON’s main goal is to promote health and wellness to individuals, particularly the elderly and the chronically ill, while allowing them the comfort and convenience of receiving care in their homes (VON Canada, 2009). VON’s mission is to achieve a healthier society by working in partnership with Canadians by being leaders in community based health care; delivering innovative and comprehensive services; and by being an influence in the development of social policies (VON Canada, 2009). Remaining true to its core values; respect, participation, responsiveness, and courage; VON is aiming to be the leading charitable organization providing community care (VON Canada, 2009).


VON offers seventy five different types of community health and support services to communities across Canada (VON Canada, 2009). While the services offered vary across locations, VON’s core services are: nursing and professional homecare programs; community support services; respite care; health promotion and education services; palliative care services; personal support, homemaking and home support services; volunteer services; most of which are offered free of charge (Safer Healthcare Now, 2009). The majority of VON’s services are paid for through the provincial government health insurance; however private health services are available for a fee (VON Canada, 2009). As VON is a not-for-profit organization, all proceeds made from its fee-for-services are redirected toward community and home care supports (VON Canada, 2009).
As VON’s goal is to promote independence, nurses, other health care professionals, support workers, and volunteers will provide nursing care to patients offering a variety of therapies and support to caregivers in the community, at home, at school, and at work. Personal care and essential homemaking which may include but is not limited to light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meal preparation and respite care can also be provided (VON Canada, 2009). By offering these services, VON makes it possible for people to receive the care they need while still remaining with their families in their homes (VON Canada, 2009). In addition, VON is able to provide specialized nursing offering their clients anything from nurse practitioners, occupational health nursing, mental health, psycho-geriatric, palliative care, paediatric, enterostomal therapy, wound management, foot care, and continence management (VON Canada, 2009). Furthermore, VON also offers their clients general nursing such as registered practical nurses and registered nurses assist their clients with any form of general health care needed (VON Canada, 2009).

VON has come a long way since 1897 when Lady Aberdeen first joined forces with 12 nurses. Today, VON offers 75 different programs, employs 4,500 health care professionals, and benefits from the support of over 9,000 volunteers. VON’s nurses and volunteers provide healthcare service to over one million Canadians per year, with most of their clientele over the age of 65 years (VON Canada, 2009).

Safer Healthcare Now (2009). Victorian Order of Nurses (VON). Retrieved December 1, 2009 from

VON Canada. (2009). About VON. Retrieved on November 30, 2009 from

VON Canada. (2009). Community support and volunteer services. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from
VON Canada. (2009). History – A century of caring… Retrieved from
VON Canada. (2009). Home support services. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from
VON Canada. (2009). What We Offer. Retrieved on November 30, 2009 from
VON Canada. (2009). Who We Are. Retrieved on November 30, 2009 from
VON Canada. (2009). VON workplace campaign. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from
VON fighting for survival. (2000, December 16). Canadian News Facts Retrieved from