TODAY at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Training opportunities directly affecting you

The development of the TODAY program (Training Opportunities Directly Affecting You) at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) was six months in the making, but the benefits and continuous learning for employees and patients will continue indefinitely. In a nutshell, the TODAY program is a unique series of customizable safety training modules that provide relevant opportunities for everyone to learn because the modules can be adapted to the needs of particular departments.

How It Started

In September 2009, HealthForceOntario announced the “Healthy Work Environments Innovation Fund Grant Program” for projects that fell within its health human resources strategy and focused on preventing workplace violence and improving worker safety. CKHA viewed the announcement as a prime opportunity to further strengthen its overall health and safety program and submitted an application which outlined why it was best suited to lead a project under the grant. The submission included an outline of a toolkit that would, dependent on funding, be developed for department-specific health and safety orientation programs. In December 2009, CKHA received the news that its submission was successful.

“We were delighted when we heard that we could move forward with our project,” said Shona Elliott, Vice-President / Chief Human Resources Officer. “Our TODAY team truly believed that by producing an innovative learning tool, we could align the interests of our employees by engaging them in our ever-evolving health and safety culture that would ultimately strengthen our organization and benefit everyone.”

CKHA had a strong safety program in place, but recognizing the culture of its organization, with increased focus on employee engagement, it seemed the right time to make safety a priority from day one of employment. In addition, it was an opportune time to refresh programs that had previously been in place. For CKHA, TODAY exemplifies its culture of continuous improvement. And, as an employer, CKHA has the opportunity and legal responsibility to establish a quality, department-specific health and safety orientation program that could be rolled out for new hires on day one of employment.

A diverse team of individuals from professional practice, support services, communications, and learning services was formed to work on the project, and input was also provided by the Ontario Hospital Association Emergency Preparedness and Health & Safety. The goals of the team were to develop a program that would enhance the safety culture and CKHA’s healthy work environment, provide a consistent and comprehensive orientation program across the hospital campuses, use a continuous improvement approach to record and monitor success, and to ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Over the course of four months, a comprehensive toolkit was created with ten modules of templates and corresponding resource material. The design of the toolkit was customizable so that any department could easily adapt the presentation using a list of examples and scenarios that would best illustrate its particular working environment. TODAY topics included: Hazard Assessment, Safe Work Policies and Practices, Emergency Procedures, and Training Records. Following completion of the toolkit in March 2010, training sessions were offered to Directors, Managers and department champions by the OHA consultants, and included a thorough background in occupational health and safety law, hazard assessment and policy development, and provided a solid foundation to managers from which to begin building their department-specific programs.

Follow up coaching sessions were offered to those managers who had attended the training. These one-on-one sessions served as a supplement to the group training and helped to streamline the next steps for each manager to take. And, because departments differed in their stages of completion, the sessions helped managers to grasp their role in the context of the orientation program. Subsequently, the toolkit was published and available as a manual on the CKHA Intranet.

Since its roll-out, managers at CKHA have encouraged the delegation of department champions to assist with the implementation and on-going evolution of the program. As well, to ensure that a thorough and consistent health and safety orientation program is successful in every department at CKHA, a follow up survey is distributed to all new employees hired after October 1, 2010. The survey will assess knowledge and retention of the information presented during orientation and provide an opportunity for feedback about the various aspects of the TODAY program to determine if information is lacking, or which areas could be improved upon. This information will also be shared with HealthForceOntario in a report due twelve months following the implementation of the program.

Innovation, improvement and safety – it’s what TODAY is all about.

For more information, please contact Janet DeActis, CKHA’s Director, Occupational Health & Safety