2014 – Endowment Fund Award – The Autism Toolkit Project

In 2014, the Autism Toolkit project team was the recipient of the award in recognition of the project’s innovation and focus on family-centred care. Team members included Michele Durant – RN, BSc, MSc Co-Lead, Helen Forrest – ANPE Co-Lead, Michelle Peralta, Barbara Muskat, Arlette Lefebvre, Andrea Greenblatt and Bonnie Fleming-Carroll.
Before the 1980’s one in every 2000 children was diagnosed with Autism. Today it is one in 68. As the number of children diagnosed has been on the rise world-wide, in turn more children with Autism require care at paediatric hospitals. While the hospital environment is unfamiliar, unpredictable, noisy, complex and frustrating for any child, it is particularly challenging for a child with Autism. Staff see a spectrum of traits associated with this diagnosis that presents uniquely in each child. However, the features of the condition that often impact hospital care relate to challenges in verbal communication, complex behavioural responses to sensory issues, difficulties coping with change, and fixated interests that are highly focused and intense.
A gap in the care of children with Autism was identified, leading to a drive to develop a comprehensive process that maximized both the assessment and care planning processes by an interprofessional task force within the perioperative program. In response to the need to help nurses conduct ‘just in time’ care planning, Ms Durant and Ms Forrest along with their team undertook the development of an Autism Toolkit – an electronic toolkit consisting of three phases to help meet the needs of children with Autism in this setting.
In summary the tookit’s phases are:
• Assessment – prehospital interview to determine child’s needs and strategies family uses
• Care Delivery – tailored care supported by online evidence-based resources for various clinicians and implementation of a clinical coaching process
• Impact – captures care outcomes when accomodations are made based on the child’s identified needs
The project was developed to improve the experience of the child, and to enable staff to enhance skill development in the understanding and managing behaviours associated with Autism. The project will be evaluated by examining clinicians’ experiences in implementing the strategies and their perceptions of the impact of the implementation on patient care.
Looking forward – The Autism Toolkit project continues to progress, launching the ‘just in time’ training for staff within perioperative services. The evaluation of the first week of training is anticipated to be completed in January 2016.
The project’s innovative curriculum and processes have been presented locally at SickKids at an education showcase and the Strengths-Based Care Symposium for Nursed and Interprofessional Clinicians. Next steps include coaching and the development of champions; embedding new practices into day to day routines; and scaling up to other high risk clinical sites.
ARCHIVES – 2014 – The Alumnae Association of the School of Nursing Endowment Fund continues to support the work of the hospital’s archives which collects, preserves, and celebrated the history of nursing at SickKids. David Wencer, Library Technician, is responsible for maintaining the records and shared highlights of the year:
• 10,362 accessions are currently held in the archives
• 88 unique reference requests were answered
• Displays for several events were created, including Nursing Week, the reunion for the class of 1964 and a co-exhibit with Ryerson University celebrating their nursing program
• Outreach increased, including an interview with the Toronto Star and presentation at Ryerson University
(Website Manager: Notes for this report were made from the 2014 Impact Report prepared for the Alumnae Association of the School of Nursing Endowment Fund by SickKids Foundation)