Bringing the Canadian caregiver perspective to 54 Countries

June 1, 2017

The Change Foundation participates in the International Conference for Integrated Care

Jodeme Goldhar, Executive Lead of Strategy and Innovation & Lori Hale, Executive Lead of Research and Policy

Many jurisdictions across the world are facing similar challenges when it comes to partnering with patients and their caregivers to build integrated health care systems, which in turn support better patient and caregiver experiences. And each of these jurisdictions is tailoring its own solutions to its own unique system and population.

When international partnerships and information pipelines are created, such as they were at the International Conference for Integrated Care (ICIC) in Ireland in May, 2017, then what’s happening on one side of the world can be put into practice on the other. That’s how change is made.

ICIC was hosted by the International Foundation for Integrated Care and the Republic of Ireland’s Health Services Executive. Together, 1,200 delegates from 54 countries got together to discuss Building a platform for integrated care: Delivering change that matters to people.

Through our work first with the PATH project, and now Changing CARE, The Change Foundation has worked, and is working, with multiple sectors and organizations to improve integration in Ontario. We were honoured to present on what we’ve learned in our work so far, as we pursue our new strategic goal of improving the experience of family caregivers as they help a family member transition through and interact with Ontario’s health and community care systems.

Our past work, which focused on improving the experiences for patients and family caregivers as they move about Ontario’s health care system, led us to the vital yet often unrecognized role of informal or family caregivers in the system. As an independent health policy think-tank that works to inform positive change in Ontario’s health care system, we’ve been able to identify what some of the most pressing needs are, and we were happy to travel to Dublin with these ideas, and an open mind, in tow.

We presented together at the Making Patient and Carer Engagement Happen workshop, where we focused on the importance of co-design in developing integrated systems of care, the value and impact of patient and caregiver involvement, and the Changing CARE projects.

As a conference with a Patient Included Charter Status, by definition, patients and caregivers were actively involved in the design and planning of the conference, as well as participating as attendees and speakers.

For example, Liz Maddox, a caregiver, shared her experience, and described how she and her husband started a support group in their rural community. They had eight people attend their first meeting, and they now have nearly 80. She spoke about the importance of peer support, and commented that she was “empowered by what I hear today.” In particular, she was inspired by the work of The Change Foundation, and felt that our approach reflects what’s important to her. For us, this confirms that our work is focused on what’s important to caregivers.

Jodeme was also honoured to chair a workshop on Strengthening Family Caregivers on behalf of the Foundation, and play a role in advancing this agenda on the international stage. Being asked to facilitate this type of global discussion is a clear indication of the international recognition of the role and profile of the Foundation.

A highlight was the Care Alliance Ireland presentation on their partnership with the Health Services Executive, Family Carers Ireland and the InterRAI team to improve the carer assessment in the InterRAI assessment tool. Eight countries are involved and 50 caregivers from each country are providing input on the design of the draft questionnaire. The goal is to roll out the carer assessment of this tool internationally. 

We were proud to have the opportunity to serve as a model for others overseas. Just as importantly, we embraced the opportunity to learn from others and bring some ideas home with us, to keep The Change Foundation at the forefront of integration issues in Ontario. It’s by joining this type of community that we’re able to keep learning and growing, and keep improving the caregiver experience. We look forward to future collaborations with IFIC and its colleagues around the world.

Changing CARE is an initiative in which The Change Foundation partners with health care organizations and family caregivers to improve experiences and strengthen Ontario’s health and community care systems.

The International Foundation for Integrated Care is a not-for-profit educational membership-based network that crosses organizational and professional boundaries to bring people together to advance the science, knowledge and adoption of integrated care policy and practice.

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