AC Stroke Distinction Leads to Long-Term Positive Impact for UHN Toronto Rehab & Better Patient Outcomes

October 3, 2017

AC Stroke Distinction Leads to Long-Term Positive Impact for UHN Toronto Rehab & Better Patient OutcomesThe University Health Network (UHN) – Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) was one of the first health organizations in Canada to receive Accreditation Canada (AC)’s Stroke Distinction designation. Since 2010, it has received the award three consecutive times.

In an interview, Karl Wong, Program Services Manager for Stroke Services at UHN Toronto Rehab, said the designation has had a long-term, positive impact on the organization, leading to more consistency in quality of care and better outcomes for patients.

“The focus on stroke distinction helped us to utilize scarce resources to really allow us to provide the best care for our patients and better consistency in the care that we provide,” Wong says.

He notes that pursuing AC’s Stroke Distinction accreditation designation was something the whole organization worked towards, including senior leadership, who wanted to set a bar of excellence for specialized care. “Having Stroke Distinction helps organizations move towards standardized care that is rooted in best practices,” he says.

Wong adds that from a patient perspective, stroke distinction designation allows them to have confidence in the care they are receiving. “If you’re getting care within an organization that has stroke distinction, you know that you’ll have care processes that have been reviewed from a peer perspective, ensuring that there is excellence in the care that is being provided,” he says.

What leads to Stroke Distinction success?

In a report sent to AC, UHN Toronto Rehab noted that there are several factors that lead to successful stroke distinction accreditation. One of them is visible leadership commitment and support.

In the report, UHN Toronto Rehab said that everyone – from the CEO to the stroke unit manager – were involved in the distinction process, communicating the importance of such a distinction to staff and making recommendations on ways to meet the standards.

“Stroke Distinction allowed our entire team to evaluate our current practices, to celebrate the successful steps we have already taken to enhance patient and family care, and to drive the development of new practices, which may further assist in meeting or exceeding best practice guidelines,” says Karen Beekenkamp, Social Worker at UHN Toronto Rehab.

AC’s affiliate Health Standards Organization (HSO) offers a database of nearly 1,000 leading-edge best practices that are recognized as being particularly innovative and effective in improving the quality of care.

In addition to leadership support, UHN Toronto Rehab notes that an Accreditation Project Team was created to keep the organization on track.

Through the project team, UHN Toronto Rehab says that a clear governance model was established, ensuring that all team members knew what they needed to accomplish at every stage of the distinction process. “This allowed for project oversight, approving changes quickly, clear communication and accountability,” the report says.

The organization also created a Stroke Accreditation Coordinator role to ensure that important timelines were maintained, process changes were achieved and teams had the support needed to implement necessary changes.

Among other initiatives, UHN Toronto Rehab adds that throughout the process, the organization celebrated achievements made along the way. “Efforts were acknowledged, and the team always tried to incorporate some fun into the process,” the report says.

Key learnings that UHN Toronto Rehab took away from their Stroke Distinction accreditation experience are:

  • Involve everyone, as quality improvement is a team effort
  • Develop a culture that sustains positive changes
  • Enjoy the process and learn all you can

Wong notes that the accreditation process as a whole, enables health organizations to self-reflect on the quality of care that they are providing.

He adds that by utilizing an existing framework of standards that has been agreed upon and defined by peer organizations, accreditation also enables a health organization to see how it compares to others.

“The value of accreditation is the ongoing review and dedication to improving the quality of the care that’s being provided,” Wong says.

Working with Patient Partners

In the past year, AC and HSO have been working hard to put people at the centre of everything we do.

Patients are now playing an active role in both organizations, working as patient experts, being part of Technical Committees that develop HSO’s best-in-class standards, and being part of accreditation surveyor teams.

Wong notes that UHN Toronto Rehab is also utilizing patient partners, actively working with them to co-design improvements and programming within the organization’s stroke unit.

Patients partners, Wong says, help organizations better understand what is useful to patients. “Through having patients involved in the process, we really understand from a patient perspective, what’s meaningful,” he says.

Wong notes that in the past, programs and services were being planned without feedback from those who actually use them. “Now, we are really working to incorporate needs from a patient’s perspective,” he says. “In doing so, we’re hopefully creating a better program – something that is meaningful for patients.”

To learn more about UHN Toronto Rehab, visit their website.

AC’s Stroke Distinction is a rigorous and highly specialized program developed in partnership with Heart and Stroke Canada. Aiming to showcase excellence in stroke care, the program follows standards that are based on Canadian Stroke Best Practices, and in-depth, stroke-specific performance indicators and protocols. Learn more.