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Participants sharing their insights on a discussion board during 'Sparks' sessions

In October 2022, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital launched a highly engaging series of strategic planning activities, creating space for clients and families, staff, volunteers, students and external partners to share their insight and aspirations for the next strategic plan. 

The engagement process kicked off with “Strategy Campfires” focusing on the following five key questions:

  1. What are the concrete next steps to advance equity, inclusion and belonging at Holland Bloorview?
  2. How can we co-create a restorative, re-energizing environment for everyone who touches Holland Bloorview?
  3. How do we learn and adapt in our work more quickly and with more impact?
  4. How do we leverage what we know to individualize experiences and generate impact at the population level?
  5. How do we grow our capacity to meet holistic and complex needs?

The overwhelming participation in the process led to another round of engagement, the “Sparks”, which were designed to bring the conversation to staff, clients and families through online surveys, existing meetings, a discussion board in our cafeteria, rounding and coffee chats, to further discuss the themes that emerged from the “Strategy Campfire” sessions. 

“I feel it was a thoughtful process in terms of making it as easy and as comfortable as possible for everyone to participate,” says Julie Chiba Branson, interim director, client and family integrated care, transitions and community partnerships. “For example, some people felt more comfortable writing their insights, others felt comfortable participating in in-person discussions. I was pleased with the level of engagement, as well as the rich conversations that were shared in person and virtually, in groups and as individuals.” 

In addition to staff, students and volunteers, clients and families had a very strong voice through the engagement activities, as a result of a strong partnership with the family advisory committee (FAC) who’s annual goal was to include the voices of diverse and underrepresented youth and families in the strategic planning process. This partnership led to the co-design of the family and youth strategy survey (translated into 10 languages) and family leaders spending over 50 hours at the hospital bringing the strategy discussions to youth and families in waiting rooms, on inpatient units and at workshops and events. This partnership resulted in over 150 touchpoints with youth and families. 

“I loved that we invited so many diverse voices. We encouraged different people to share their authentic experiences, their hopes, their challenges and successes. It was impressive to see a lot of diversity and inclusion in these strategic planning spaces,” says Gunjan Seth, family leader.  “They were safe spaces where, as a parent and a family leader, I felt included in the conversation and we acknowledged the opinions of each one who came to these spaces.”

Overall, our engagement led to over 1400 touchpoints and a variety of rich and powerful feedback that is currently being reviewed, themed and translated into a strategic framework, in collaboration with the strategy task force, and our consultants from The Potential Group. From there, a final strategic plan will be created, brought to the hospital board of directors for approval and then launch in June 2023.

“This  was an opportunity to pause and take stock of the current healthcare, research and academic environments while engaging our clients, families, staff, students, volunteers, scientists, learners and external partners to reflect on the past six years of achievement and impact and, map out a new strategic plan,” says Julia Hanigsberg, president and CEO of Holland Bloorview.  “The pandemic created enormous disruption and extraordinary strain on our team over the past three years as well as on the system as a whole. We have listened and heard the voice of our community and we are committed to drawing on the feedback we received, to develop a plan that supports healthy and meaningful futures for children, youth and their families for years to come. Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts, insights and opinions. Your feedback has tremendous value and will help shape our future.”

We interviewed some of the participants about their engagement experiences and their expectations of the next strategic plan. Here is what they had to say: