By Maria Judd
Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives and Programs
If you work in healthcare, you’ve almost certainly experienced it firsthand. More than three years after COVID-19 emerged, cases are in decline, but people and healthcare systems across Canada are facing profound pressures. An acute shortage of healthcare providers and high levels of stress and burnout are leading to critical challenges delivering consistently safe and high-quality care.
Consider the available data. Unfilled vacancies in Canada’s healthcare and social assistance sector more than doubled from December 2019 to the end of 2022, with a new record of over 147,000 positions open1. Our current healthcare workforce continues to face extreme fatigue and stress, factors which have a direct impact on the safety and well-being of patients and staff every single day.
Amid these challenges, people working in Canada’s healthcare sector have, and continue to show, incredible commitment, resourcefulness and creativity. Dedicated individuals and teams in all provinces and territories are working on innovative solutions to address challenges head on.
At Healthcare Excellence Canada, we work with partners from coast to coast to coast to catalyze knowledge-sharing, best practices and innovation. We support building the capacity of teams of healthcare staff in a wide variety of organizations to do their best possible work. Our goal – as we work with and for folks across the country – is to help shape a future where everyone in Canada has access to safe, high-quality care.
To support this, we at Healthcare Excellence Canada are excited to bring you two new initiatives that will help promote and grow work being done across the country: the Health Workforce Innovation Challenge and the Strengthening Access to Primary Care program.
The Health Workforce Innovation Challenge
This initiative is designed to help healthcare organizations and their teams generate, test and grow innovative ideas and new solutions to promote staff retention and support of their current workforces.
Healthcare Excellence Canada worked with colleagues to review over 40 reports with over 100 recommendations to retain and support the healthcare workforce in Canada. Together, we identified six objectives and created a new challenge program to help action them. The Health Workforce Innovation Challenge is tailored toward publicly funded healthcare organizations working on new approaches to:
- Foster physically safe workplaces.
- Enhance sustainable staffing.
- Build flexible work structures.
- Provide equitable and appropriate compensation.
- Ensure supportive and inclusive workplaces.
- Support career advancements
If these themes are familiar to you and your colleagues, we encourage you to join this challenge.
Whether accelerating existing initiatives or launching new ones, it provides exciting opportunities for monetary awards and community-building, networking, and knowledge-sharing to help teams go further together. Teams will have the chance for award opportunities that recognize measurable improvement toward moving the dial on retention and support of their current workforces.
This outcomes-based challenge is also flexible with your team able to choose a participation level that makes sense for you. The requirements for registration are minimal, and the program is designed to:
- Connect your team with other people—across Canada—working to support healthcare workers.
- Share evidence-informed tools and best practices to meet your unique needs.
- Provide expert coaching and resources—including webinars, knowledge products and peer-to-peer networking.
- Help raise the profile of your team and initiatives.
- Support your team in tracking its progress.
Registration launches on June 27, 2023. Also, please join us at a virtual Q&A session on July 19 where you can explore ways that we can support your organization to transform health and care with and for people across the country through the Health Workforce Innovation Challenge!
Strengthening Primary Care in Northern, Rural and Remote Communities (Strengthening Primary Care)
More than 6.5 million adults in Canada do not have access to primary care2, with those who live in northern, rural and remote communities often experiencing even poorer access compared to their urban counterparts.
People receiving strong primary care experience better outcomes, stronger equity and lower costs. National renewed attention on improving primary care provides opportunities for us to organize, fund and deliver primary care with and for people in new and innovative ways. HEC is working to help create new and flexible primary care approaches that build on community strengths and respond to the health needs of the communities they serve.
Strengthening Primary Care is designed to support solutions for northern, rural and remote communities through the development of knowledge-sharing partnerships between providers and organizations. From November 2023 to September 2024, participating teams will develop a plan to implement or strengthen practices to improve equitable access to safe, culturally appropriate, high-quality, team-based primary care that meets unique community and provider needs.
Other supports include:
- Seed funding of up to $50,000.
- Virtual and in-person networking, coaching, and learning events.
- Resources and capacity-building supports.
- Measurement and evaluation supports.
- Opportunities to guide and inform the development of new resources to help improve equitable access to high-quality care and focusing on improving primary team-based care which includes patients, caregivers and communities.
Improving access to primary care can help reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes for people living in northern, rural and remote communities. It can also improve safety for both those who receive and deliver care.
To learn about how to participate, register for our informational webinar on July 11, 2023. For further details and to express interest, please contact Healthcare Excellence Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Change is possible. Join us and let’s grow evidence-informed hope!
Healthcare Excellence Canada is committed to harnessing and sharing the innovations of partners to help improve healthcare safety and quality with and for people across the country. Through collaborations with patients, essential care partners and people working in healthcare, we turn proven innovations into lasting improvements in all dimensions of healthcare excellence and build pathways to grow and spread local innovations across systems.
There are significant challenges in delivering safe and high-quality care across the country. There are also tremendous opportunities and innovations that are re-shaping how we organize, fund and deliver care happening now. Together, we can support the healthcare workforce and strengthen primary care with and for more people across Canada. We invite you to join us on these journeys to better health and improve healthcare.
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In Health and Care,