Protecting and Sustaining System Capacity for Our Most Vulnerable

In 2020, UNICEF Report Card identified the decline in the focus on children’s health in Canada with our ranking slipping to 30th place of the 38 wealthiest countries in the world. This prompted leaders in the Canadian system to join together to create a unified vision of “Inspiring Healthy Futures” for our paediatric care. As we witness the challenges, system pressures and compounding impacts on our healthcare system and aspirations for the future, we need to ensure that creating and sustaining world class programs and services means sustaining and investing in downstream programs in the community for children with medical complexities and chronic illnesses.

The healthcare crisis we’re currently experiencing resulted from a perfect storm with years of under investments and we have not yet been able to build an integrated system of care across sectors. Fast forward 29 months into a global pandemic that rocked our sector and the health human resource issues that were present prior to the pandemic are exacerbated exponentially. For children with chronic diseases and medical complexities, the investments to create a comprehensive system of quality care are very much at an infancy level. We need to ensure that we sustain, develop and advance what’s in place and create a truly integrated system of care especially as we see other sectors of our system under duress.

The CIHI 2020 report highlighted the current situation related to individuals with medical complexities and the intensity of care and treatments needed. We live in a country where we are continually striving to advance medical care and save lives. Living in a city with the best children’s hospital in the world (SickKids) is a constant reminder that saving lives is just one aspect that needs attention and focus – it must be continuous along the life cycle outside the walls of the hospitals so these individuals can live their best lives.

My reflections for the month gives way to the issues of the day and while the media focuses on our acute care system that no doubt needs attention and support to enhance capacity, my attention and focus remains steady to preserving our children’s capacity in the community and building a better system for vulnerable individuals. Downstream impacts and good care also mean that vulnerable individuals who often are not expected to live past their 18th birthday and they are deserving of a soft, seamless landing into their adulthood with the appropriate care and chance to live their best life for however long that may be.

Five years into my journey at Safehaven to advance care for children, youth and young adults with medical complexities, our vision is clear: to create a more inclusive world for individuals with complexities with the most appropriate care and environment. Aligning to our vision to the national agenda of Inspiring Healthy Futures gives us leverage to advocate and push for system change for a better, more inclusive world for vulnerable individuals.