Ontario network goes national, to improve care for all Spinal Cord Injury patients – regardless of where they live

An Ontario network of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) rehabilitation sites and patient partners, committed to raising the standard of SCI rehabilitation care, is expanding across Canada, to ensure equitable, optimal care for all patients, regardless of where they live.

The network is called the Spinal Cord Injury Implementation & Evaluation Quality Care Consortium (www.sciconsortium.ca).

“Right now, the quality of SCI care patients receive is largely dependent on where their accident takes place and the proximity of the tertiary rehabilitation centre to their home,” says Dr. Cathy Craven, Evaluation Leader of the Consortium, Senior Scientist, and Physician Lead, SCI Rehab, Toronto Rehab.

“We are establishing a first-ever network to implement best practices and collect indicators (measures) of quality care that will lead to better outcomes for everyone. And we’re well on our way.”

Focusing on six areas of care, prioritized by importance and urgency, the network aims to influence a person’s long-term recovery, health, and well-being. Just one year into implementing rapid quality improvement initiatives and measuring the outcomes, the network has already seen an increase in engagement and improvement in practice across participating sites.

The intent is to follow people living with an SCI for 18 months from the time they begin rehabilitation ensure the care they receive as patients sets them up for long-term success in the community. The ultimate goal is to use this information to establish best practices in SCI rehabilitation, which all sites in Canada will be benchmarked against.

“Individuals living with SCI are among the most complex patients receiving rehabilitation services. We owe it to them to work as fast as we can, to increase their functional independence and facilitate their health and wellness in the community, as best as we can,” Says Dr. Craven.

“Expanding from a provincial to a national network will allow us to build on frontline clinician and patient engagement, to realize our mission.”

The network was launched in Ontario in January 2019. It will now include tertiary rehabilitation hospitals from Alberta, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

The future of SCI care in Canada

Establishing best practices within each area below will ensure equitable and optimal care for Canadians.

Walking –Ensure those who have the potential to walk are getting the intensity of therapy needed to maximize the recovery of walking.

Wheeled Mobility – Maximize community wheelchair skills through standard mobility assessments.

Emotional Well-Being – Improve screening and management of depression and anxiety, to maximize rehabilitation outcomes.

Sexual Health – Create a permissive environment for clinicians and patients to have open discussions around sexual health inquiry.

Tissue Integrity – Reduce incidence and severity of pressure injuries (from wheelchairs and beds) across a person’s lifespan.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – Reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions for Urinary Tract Infections.

The Ontario Spinal Cord Injury Implementation & Evaluation Quality Care Consortium was funded by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. The National expansion is funded by Praxis Spinal Cord Institute.