Spark Funding Helps Take CFHI-supported Innovations Farther

by Nadine Morris | Mar 03, 2017

Innovations in the field of aging and brain health are getting a boost thanks to funding from the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABH), with CFHI-supported teams from Fraser Health in B.C. and York Care Centre in New Brunswick making the list.

In early February, CC-ABH awarded $1.4 million in Spark funding to 31 healthcare organizations across Canada. The program recognizes early-stage innovations in the field of aging and brain health that are generated by point-of-care workers – nurses, physicians and clinicians who have the closest relationship with people in their care.

“The Spark program is a perfect fit with the philosophy of CFHI’s quality improvement collaboratives,” says CFHI President Maureen O’Neil. “The strength of our collaboratives lies in supporting interprofessional teams to work together to make change happen. CFHI is proud to be associated with organizations like Fraser Health and York Care Centre that are helping to spread important innovations to improve healthcare in Canada.”  

Fraser Health Avoids Hospitalizations for Long Term Care Residents through PREVIEW-ED© eTool

Fraser Health delivers a wide range of healthcare services to more than 1.8 million people living in communities stretching from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope, B.C. These services include more than 80 residential care facilities.

Staff at these facilities are now using PREVIEW-ED©, an innovative screening tool developed by Marilyn El Bestawi through CFHI’s EXTRA: Executive Training Program.

The tool helps staff in long term care detect early health decline and takes only 8–15 seconds for personal support workers or care aides to administer.

 “We’re completely sold and we love the PREVIEW-ED© tool,” says Catherine Kohm, a Director at Fraser Health. “We’re rolling it out to all 80 homes in Fraser Health by the end of March 2017.”

The beauty of the tool, Kohm explains, is its ease of use. “Care staff can quickly see what’s happening in their day-to-day interactions with the resident, score it, and flag it for discussion.”

$50,000 in Spark funding will support the development of a software application for PREVIEW-ED© to reduce the amount of paper that’s generated by using the tool – an idea inspired by feedback from front-line staff.

Kohm says that Fraser Health is grateful for the CC-ABH funding, and to be working directly with the tool’s proprietor. “It’s really about the quality of care for our clients,” says Kohm. “With the electronic app, observations can be seen right away and interventions can start earlier.”

CFHI is now working with residential care homes across Fraser Health and Interior Health to implement the tool through its PREVIEW-ED© Spread Collaborative.

Kohm credits three factors to the success of the spread of the tool.

“One, we have a very dedicated and engaged staff in all of our homes who have recommend ways to take the tool to the next level. Two, we’re fortunate to have an innovative-minded CEO who fully supports this initiative.”

And third, she says, is the support her organization has received through CFHI’s quality improvement collaborative.

“We have been fortunate to be part of a wonderful project,” Kohm says. “Through the workshops and webinars, we’ve come to see this as a system issue that needs a system change. CFHI helped us sort out our process issues, and it’s been very helpful to have a Canadian perspective.”

York Care Centre Develops Process for Managing and Reducing Polypharmacy

At the York Care Centre, $50,000 in Spark funding is being used to refine a process that makes it easier for physicians, patients and families to get the information they need to have valuable conversations on appropriate medications for seniors.

This project expands on a project that initially began in 2014 – the pan-Canadian appropriate use of antipsychotics (AUA) collaborative with CFHI.  

Kevin Harter is President and CEO of the York Care Centre in Fredericton. His organization joined the CFHI AUA collaborative to address data that showed an unusually high rate of antipsychotic use in its nursing homes.

“CFHI was a perfect fit for us at that time,” Harter explains. “The collaborative gave us access to a whole suite of tools that we could use to start to reduce medication use.”

The results? More than half of the targeted residents had their antipsychotic medication discontinued or significantly reduced.

“Once we had finished that project, we identified that antipsychotics were only one kind of drug that needed looking at,” Harter explains. “Our focus became appropriate prescribing.”

And the good work continues. Harter reports that the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation has matched the Spark funding dollar-for-dollar.

Harter says he can’t emphasize enough how much York Care Centre appreciates the financial boost from both the research foundation and from the Spark award. “This will help us so much moving forward,” he says. “It’s encouraging us to know that we’re doing something to make a difference – not only in our province, but also across the Canada.”

He’s also grateful for the kick-start his organization received from CFHI.

When summing up his thoughts about the value of the CFHI collaborative, Harter refers to an old proverb.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Rather than just giving once and handing off, CFHI shared with us the tools we needed to be successful in the longer term. And with those tools, we can make anything happen.”