This year #Holland Bloorview #Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is celebrating an important milestone in our 117 year history – 10 years in our new state-of-the-art, accessible, child-friendly facility recognized by the International Academy for Design and Health as “an inspirational building…which speaks to a child’s right to participate in our society.”
We have come a long way since 1899 to become the largest rehabilitation hospital in Canada focused on improving the lives of kids and youth with disabilities. Over the generations, we’ve had many name changes, locations and even amalgamated two organizations. Some of our former names you might recognize, others, however well-intentioned during their time, reflect outdated language: From the original facility called the Home for Incurable Children to the Ontario Crippled Children’s Centre, Bloorview Children’s Hospital, the Hugh MacMillan Medical Centre to our current facility, named following a generous donation by the Holland Family.
Those name changes mark an evolution in the history of childhood disability and child health. Where we once saw “incurable,” we now see possibility. Kids and youth and their families actively partner with their care teams at the hospital to set their own goals and plan their transition to home and community.
In addition to exceptional care, we are helping bridge the gap to adulthood with work experience programs like “Youth@Work” for the specific readiness skills needed for employment. We are constantly looking at new opportunities such as a recent robot building pilot program with FIRST Robotics Canada, which brings the inspiration of science, technology and teamwork to kids who may often require technology for their activities of daily living. And supported by our generous donors, we have embarked on an ambitious three-year program to establish excellence in building the pathway to adulthood for kids and youth with disabilities.
Of course there is much further to go. The kids and youth we serve and their families with whom we co-create great care, have unlimited ambitions for recovery, capability, long-term health and inclusion in society. Research is a big part of the way they will achieve these aspirations.
Through our world-class research institute we are expanding the reach of technology to create a future when every child regardless of ability is able to communicate. Our team is advancing our understanding and treatment of pain in children with cerebral palsy and helping to disseminate that knowledge through downloadable toolkits available to clinicians across the globe.
We are also making important strides in autism research in early intervention, clinician capacity building, technologies including anxiety monitoring, pharmacological approaches, and understanding autism to help improve the lives of children with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. And our work in participation and inclusion is paving the way for a brighter future by identifying how to build resilience and improve service delivery for kids and youth and their families, as well as identifying barriers and the evidence to eradicate them.
Through novel programs such as advanced simulation development, advocacy, and a “family as faculty” philosophy including a home visit program for medical and other health disciplines students, the Holland Bloorview Teaching and Learning Institute in partnership with our client and family integrated care team is giving the next generation of clinicians the tools they will need to help improve the quality of life for those we serve.
We have been engaging kids and youth and their families for years and developed a system-leading framework in 2011 through which we partner at all levels and for all major decisions in the organization. That’s why as important as 10 years in a building feels, we listen when our families remind us that they want health care excellence that isn’t confined within our bricks and mortar. That’s why we implemented, in partnership with Canada Health Infoway and kids and their families, our connect2care portal that brings health records (as well as appointments and secure messaging with clinicians) to mobile devices and laptops.
Physical space still matters: Our building isn’t meant to feel like a hospital. Thirty-three art pieces around the building create interest and inspiration. ScreenPlay, an interactive waiting room activity for kids of all abilities created by our research institute, turns waiting for a clinic appointment into anxiety reduction, physical activity and intellectual stimulation…oh and fun!
With a storied history behind us, Holland Bloorview is continuing a journey of health care transformation as we partner and lead to advance the most integrated, high-quality care for children and youth with disability and rehabilitation needs and their families.