By Chris Wilson
To say the last 12 months have been full of challenge, evolution and change would be an understatement. The impact of the pandemic has underscored the need for both resiliency and adaptability on all of our parts. For those of us providing care in the home, just-in-time innovation in a climate of uncertainty has been imperative to meet the changing needs of individuals, their families and their communities. To stay responsive, we’ve had to rapidly test and evaluate daring new ideas, rethink old ones, deploy new technologies and build dynamic new teams.
We’ve experienced an almost overnight transition to an integrated, digital platform for on-demand care and real-time data collection in order to maintain quality care. And, our firm has also been able to work with several Canadian Universities to ensure virtual placements when it became clear that many health care students were at risk of not graduating on time. As a result, Occupational Therapy students from across Canada lent their energy and commitment to evidence-based practice and design and led several studies to help us better support our providers and deliver better care. Using focus groups to identify common barriers they facilitated virtual care adoption.
Based on this work, they developed and delivered an intergenerational 1:1 coaching program for clinicians and clients. Students also delivered and enhanced, a virtual version of our Care for the Caregiver program to support informal family caregivers in these stressful times. Through the data collected, we learned that caregivers want to be recognized as essential care providers and better connected to community resources that will help them be more successful in delivering care.
Company-wide quality checks where clients shared feedback about feeling safe receiving in-home services due to consistency of caregivers, sociallydistanced treatment, and use of personal protective equipment were also conducted by the students. By surveying thousands of Personal Support Workers, opportunities were identified to elevate the PSW role and recognize their value as the “eyes and ears” of what patients and caregivers are experiencing in home. We were also able to commit to training in health coaching, navigation and restorative approach to care.
These are but a few examples of the power of the importance of rapid innovation in a time like this. While this approach may not be for the faint of heart, COVID-19 has taught us, more than ever, that innovation is essential.
Chris Wilson is the Senior Vice President, Home Health, Eastern Canada, for CBI Health and Chair of the Board for Home Care Ontario.