Using evidence everyday to improve care

More than a decade ago Laura Thompson was a student volunteer at Holland Bloorview. During that transformative experience, Laura met an Occupational Therapist (OT) who was using innovative and cutting-edge techniques to treat children with disabilities.

Fast-forward ten years, and Laura happily finds herself in the same hospital, where she has a rewarding career and she is now the OT inspiring others. At Holland Bloorview, Laura combines her clinical, research and knowledge translation expertise with her passion for lifelong learning and uses the best evidence to inform her everyday practice.

Most recently, Laura joined the concussion clinical services team. Closely linked with the concussion lab, the team provides outpatient services for children and youth with persistent concussion symptoms.

Holland Bloorview researchers were part of an expert team that developed the first-ever treatment guidelines for concussions in children and youth, released by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) in 2014. Holland Bloorview was quick to respond to these new guidelines. That’s where Laura came in. She led the development of a knowledge translation plan to integrate the new guidelines into clinical pathways.

It was a group effort. The Concussion Centre clinicians provided their input to Laura, who partnered with Evidence to Care - a team created to bridge the gap between research, clinical care and policy, informing the best care for children with disabilities at Holland Bloorview and beyond. Laura brought the clinical perspective and understanding. Evidence to Care brought the formal expertise of knowledge translation and a standardized approach to implementation and measurement.

They were all focused on one goal — to broaden the availability of evidence-based informed clinical pathways for children and youth with concussions.

A survey of the concussion team members indicates that they are achieving their goal. Everyone surveyed said that the clinical mapping process was effective for maximizing each team member’s scope of practice. Additionally, 88% were confident that the guideline recommendations were being used in the clinical process and that the clinical mapping process was effective in supporting high-quality client and family-centred care.

When Laura considers the impact this knowledge translation project has on clients, a teenaged girl comes to mind. She got a concussion playing hockey and was having a hard time returning to her everyday activities. As a very active girl, she was highly motivated to get back to her busy life. Laura worked with her, using the guidelines, to develop tailored strategies. The girl is now back to school full-time and living an active life. “It’s amazing to see the guidelines applied with a balanced approach to help this girl get her life and routine back,” Laura said.

Laura is a stellar example of an Evidence to Care champion. She instinctively uses the latest evidence in her everyday work with clients. When asked where her passion comes from, Laura doesn’t hesitate. “At the end of the day, it’s all about providing the best care for our clients.”

And that’s an obligation that is embraced widely. By investing in knowledge translation through the formal creation of the Evidence to Care team, Holland Bloorview is truly leading the way in integrating new knowledge into everyday practice.