Changing CARE: Success built on a strong foundation

April 19, 2018

Harpreet Bassi, Senior Program Associate

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the four Changing CARE teams launched their innovative, caregiver-focused projects. 

One year, 15 cross-cutting working group sessions, 17 bi-weekly project managers meetings, and numerous steering committee meetings, to be more precise. Most impressively, across the four teams, more than 650 caregivers have participated, informed and partnered on the change they’d like to see.

Over the course of that year, the teams have gone through their planning phases, completed local discovery and engagement, and moved to design and implementation, all within the context of co-design. 

When we selected the four teams, we were focused on finding partnerships and teams that truly understood the critical role caregivers play in the health care system, and embraced the need for change. What was so interesting—but also caused some hesitation—was that these four projects were so diverse in scope, design and implementation. It wasn’t clear how they’d be able to collaborate and build on each other’s work and learnings.

It didn’t take long to see the magic of how they’d all work together. I think that’s one of the key learnings from our project so far—that when people come together with a common purpose, no matter how diverse the teams are, there’s always something to learn from each other.

There’s no place that this is more evident than at the bi-weekly project managers’ meetings that bring these teams together to share ideas, problem solve, learn from each other and celebrate successes. These meetings have become integral to Changing CARE.

Yes, that’s right. This is a blog post to celebrate meetings.

At their best, these meetings are an open dialogue on how to leverage each other’s experiences and work, and to inform and improve the other projects. This is not to say that these meetings aren’t on occasion simply a laundry list of what the teams are working on. But that’s okay because it’s important for the other project managers to know they are not alone in the day-to-day operations of this type of innovative project. 

There are three things that contribute to the overall effectiveness of the bi-weekly project managers meetings

  1. Shared values: Every phase of these projects is co-designed with caregivers as equal decision-makers alongside providers and administrators. Each of the teams, and their respective organizations and partners, recognize the value caregivers bring to the health system. This is a shared commitment not just to the process of co-design, but to the principles that underpin it. These project teams listen and learn together, are flexible, adapt and embrace ambiguity.
  2. Joint accountability: The project managers chair the meetings and everyone informs the agenda. The project managers make a concerted effort to participate and come prepared to share the work from their projects. The Change Foundation acts as an equal partner by hosting the meeting, contributing to the agenda items and information which would be useful to all the teams, and taking notes.
  3. Operational Efficiency: There is a standing meeting date and time for the entire three-year duration of the project. The project managers know when it is and where to go, there are no surprises. The agenda is posted, The Change Foundation acts as host, and discussion notes are posted following each meeting. We use video-conferencing so we can see our colleagues from across the province.

My two metrics for measuring the success of these meetings are: 

  • No matter how busy, the project managers’ show up for the calls and;
  • No matter how often I ask about cancelling the meetings, the answer is always a resounding no.

Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege to be The Change Foundation participant on these bi-weekly project managers’ calls, and am impressed and inspired by the commitment of these individuals to improve the caregiver experience. 

Thank you Jacobi (Improving CARE Together), Joanne (EMBRACE), Michelle (Connecting the Dots), Jennifer, Susan and Erika (Cultivating Change). 

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As we wrap up #CaregiverDay in Ontario, we want to say thank you to all the family #caregivers out there who are doing extraordinary work, we see you and we appreciate you! Thank you for all that you do - year round but also during these unprecedented times!