Long-term care: Where innovation can bloom

By Amy Porteous

Bruyère Continuing Care’s goal is to be a leader in care of the elderly and to provide the exceptional care and services residents need to reach their physical, social, psychological and spiritual potential. This philosophy extends far beyond the four walls of our hospitals and long-term care homes (LTC) homes.

Our patient and resident-centered philosophy guides us as we make strategic decisions and build partnerships. Our academic hospitals have worked with researchers from the Bruyère Research Institute (BRI) and hosted students in numerous disciplines for many years. Building on this strong foundation, in 2011, we welcomed the Bruyère Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation (CLRI) in LTC* to the Bruyère family.

LTC homes are very special places. Over 250 seniors live in Élisabeth Bruyère and Saint-Louis Residences, where they visit with their loved ones and build their lives. Our CLRI’s goal is to enhance the quality of care for all Ontario LTC residents by supporting innovation and collaboration between researchers, health planners, educators, LTC staff, other health practitioners, residents and families. The team creates and shares new knowledge and relevant and practical tools, in both official languages. As it comes to the end of its 6th year of operation, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on some of the Bruyère CLRI’s greatest achievements.

The CLRI has hosted many exciting learning initiatives. I have watched as 4th year nursing students’ eyes were opened to the rich professional and personal opportunities this sector offers. These students were benefitting from a new gerontology-intensive placement in partner LTC homes, an innovative program designed by Algonquin College in collaboration with the CLRI. I’ve read the enthusiasm in the testimonials of professionals who attended a CLRI interactive Educators’ Day. At these sessions, educators pick up practical tools, such as e-learning modules, and make connections they can build on as they strive to create varied teaching opportunities for staff. “Sold-out” webinars on tools for de-prescribing and on communication at the end-of-life further attest to the sector’s thirst for learning.

Research is close to our heart at Bruyère. In a relatively short time, we designed and conducted over 20 research projects. By their nature, research projects are connected and intertwined.  As an example, researchers from the CLRI and La Cité, along with Saint-Louis Residence (SLR) staff validated the standardized Oral Health Assessment Tool in French and developed an animated short video Mouth Matters on the importance of good oral health. This eased the way for the implementation of the RNAO’s Oral Care Best Practice Guidelines at SLR, the first francophone Best Practice Spotlight Organization in Ontario. Gathering momentum, SLR’s first group of La Cité dental hygiene students successfully completed their placements last Fall. These placements help our home with ongoing knowledge exchange and also ensure future dental hygienists have the skills required to serve LTC residents.

Supporting innovative care practices is also part of the CLRI program. Our team has been looking at a unique service arrangement: designated specialized units in LTC homes. These units expand the role a LTC home plays in the continuum of care as they serve residents who do not require the full range of care provided in hospitals but whose needs go beyond what a regular LTC home can offer.

As we look towards the future, together with our partner CLRIs at Baycrest and Schlegel, we are looking forward to hearing positive news about the renewal of the CLRIs. The three CLRIs have already laid strong foundations from which to expand the impacts of each project for sustained behavioural changes across the LTC sector. We jointly developed the proposal for CLRI 2.0 through extensive stakeholder consultation. A continuation of Ontario’s CLRIs would strengthen this integrated program that responds to challenges seen in LTC. Together, we are striving to ensure that Ontario’s most vulnerable seniors receive quality, evidence-informed care in Ontario’s long-term care homes grounded in leading practices.

Amy Porteous is VP, Public Affairs, Planning and Family Medicine at Bruyère Continuing Care.

Ontario’s CLRI Program at Bruyère, Baycrest and Schlegel works to enhance the quality of care provided to LTC residents by supporting research, new innovations, learning and knowledge exchange on evidence-based initiatives. The examples above highlight some of the Bruyère CLRI’s work. Each CLRI has pursued activities that built on their areas of strength, as well as have worked together. Ontario’s CLRI Program was made possible through funding provided by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. For more information, to access tools, learning materials and research findings, please visit www.clri-ltc.ca.