Building our Researcher-Family Partnership

From the desk of Anna Pallotta, Research Family Engagement Committee (RFEC) Co-chair

Supporting meaningful research that holds the potential to make a difference in children’s lives is a commitment shared by Holland Bloorview's research institute and clients and families alike.

We recognize the importance of working in partnership to facilitate such life-changing research. Engaging families, both in and beyond the role of research participants, is an essential part of building this partnership.

That is why the RFEC seeks to promote family engagement in research.

So, what does family engagement look like? Here are only a few recent highlights:

  • Research family leaders have continued to participate in a great many ways, including: reviewing research grant applications; sharing their family stories; being part of working groups, sitting on research committees; offering their insights on current and future research projects; and participating in/presenting at external events.
  • Susan Cosgrove, a research family leader, along with Dr. Tom Chau, co-hosted the 11th Annual BRI Symposium, held on November 22nd. The theme of the Symposium was Real life, real impact: Research that changes lives and directly addressed the value and impact of family engagement in research.
  • The Symposium was a wonderful opportunity for attendees to gain a deeper awareness of the significance of having families as research partners – not only for clients and  families, but for the research itself.  Family presenters, by sharing their lived experience, offered inspiring examples.
  • The Town Hall segment of the Symposium explored the impact of family engagement on research/researchers. In small and whole group discussions, participants (including researchers and health professionals, Holland Bloorview staff, families, and clients) addressed two issues: the value of engaging families on research; and, moving forward, how to evaluate such impact.

As a Town Hall participant, I observed a huge amount of common ground among the various ideas and perspectives – all of it positive. Along with passion, caring and commitment to meaningful research, people from many walks of life demonstrated similar understanding of why and how family engagement in research matters.  Such an understanding helps in building our researcher-family partnership.

To learn more about the family engagement program, click here.