Weaving caregivers into Ontario’s healthcare system: Scaling and sustaining Changing CARE    

Sue BhellaBy Sue Bhella, Senior Associate, The Change Foundation

Let me paint a picture for you: It was a snowy day in January. The kind of day that halts the city of Toronto and makes you wish you were someplace warm in the sun.

But despite the cold – and amid the 20 centimetres of snow outside – I witnessed the warmth of hope and trust and unity among caregivers, front-line staff, middle management and leaders who came together to improve the caregiver experience in Ontario.

I’ve had the privilege of working with patients, caregivers and providers for several years. But on that day in January, when we brought together our Changing CARE teams for a workshop to exchange ideas on how to sustain and spread their initiatives, I witnessed the magic of individuals rising above their collective projects and organizations, and recognizing they were each a thread in weaving a new type of partnership in care.

The group didn’t focus on operations, finances or staffing challenges. Rather, they framed the narrative around lessons to be learned from each other – what worked, what didn’t work so well, and what could be done differently. Their shared lived experiences really resonated with the attendees, and served to balance out the theories and frameworks they learned about.

The change ideas shared in that room were more than just about changing a process or procedure in a unit, department or program. They were about changing how we conduct ourselves, how we work together with caregivers to improve care, how we think – our attitudes and our culture.

In reflecting on the day, the eureka moment for me was this: Irrespective of the change idea, where it is being implemented and by who, it serves to shift our perspectives and how we partner with caregivers.

I invite you to watch this video we made chronicling the day. You’ll see the energy that each team brings to their projects, and their passion for improving the caregiver experience. You’ll learn more about the projects in this video. And you’ll learn a thing or two about how to truly partner with caregivers from the beginning,  to make change in health care.

As for me, I learned that to begin threading a new fabric, more than anything, requires:

  1. Creating space and opportunity to bring together diverse people and organizations with a common goal
  2. Enabling the convened individuals and organizations to organically find and channel their perspectives into one voice
  3. Leveraging the experiences of those who have walked the walk before you
  4. Looking beyond the change ideas themselves when planning to sustain the change to the status quo

Our attendees came eager to learn, to share, and to collaborate, and left feeling energized, and enthusiastic to apply the learnings and make the changes they are intending to. As the projects roll up their sleeves and begin planning for scaling and sustaining their change ideas, the patchwork for a new fabric has begun to unfold, where partnering with caregivers just becomes how we do things.

WHAT’S BEING SAID

77% of #caregivers wish there was a ‘one-stop-shop’ to turn to for help and advice. Find out more about the caregiving experience in Ontario by reading our newest report: bit.ly/2QOu1RG pic.twitter.com/DVD9HnNmYl