“We all grow when we have the possibility to exchange experiences and information”

Winnipeg’s Every Child Every Time initiative is transforming how children’s pain is treated in Manitoba

SKIP works hard to support programs its Affiliate sites, including the Every Child Every Time initiative at Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg. Every Child Every Time brings together nurses, therapists, child life specialists, pharmacists, psychologists, physicians, patients, and parents to address children’s pain.

Their mission is to “prevent and relieve pain as best as possible and at any time for all children and adolescents who receive healthcare in Winnipeg, and, in the longer term, throughout the province of Manitoba, Canada.”

Helping researchers and clinicians overcome isolation is critical to advancing the management of children’s pain. Every two months, SKIP’s Western Canada Hub hosts video conferences that bring together healthcare professionals from across Western Canada to share information and facilitate change in how children’s pain is understood and managed. SKIP West meetings are regularly attended by hospital- and community-based physicians, nurses, psychologists, researchers, and stakeholders.

“When connecting with others before SKIP, it was just one on one, not an organized effort,” explains Dr. Kristy Wittmeier, a physiotherapist and researcher. “When I first started working in the chronic pain clinic, I reached out to a bunch of people individually, but having this coordination, sustainability, continuity, and core infrastructure is great.”

SKIP provides a forum for Dr. Wittmeier to share and learn about the most promising practices in children’s pain management, as well as provides a valuable channel for spreading their important work throughout the west and across Canada.

Last fall, Every Child Every Time launched “Painfully Aware”, a patient partner blog written by a young adult who lives with chronic pain, on their website. SKIP supported the blogger in developing the content and implemented a communication plan to ensure it reaches a national audience.

“We wanted to develop more youth-informed resources for kids,” says Dr. Wittmeier. “This is part of the knowledge transfer strategy for one of our research projects. The young adult we’ve worked with has shared their story, experiences, and tips in a way that other youth can relate to.”

The idea for the blog came from a patient engagement workshop, where teenagers with chronic pain worked together and identified the need for more resources. The blogger, who has chosen to remain anonymous, is now well connected with SKIP and their communications team.

Katherine Dib, SKIP’s Patient Engagement Coordinator, worked closely with the blogger.

“She taught me a lot, and I connected her with others who had shared their lived experiences. It’s not common to see blogs from young people in pain,” says Dib.

“I made sure she knew her rights and what was in it for her, and counselled her on the anonymity piece. I could share my personal experience being a patient partner and that helped her make the decision that was right for her.”

SKIP’s Communications Coordinator, Mylène Pinet, was instrumental in crafting the knowledge mobilization strategy, designing Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts, and connecting with patient partner organizations to maximize reach.

“The biggest takeaway I’ve had is that when a new idea connects with a network likes ours, it benefits both sides. We were able to provide a resource that not many young people have.”

Dr. Wittmeier is excited to see how the series will reach a wider audience and make the tools and resources on the Every Child Every Time website accessible to patients and healthcare providers across Canada.

The powerful SKIP #ItDoesn’tHaveToHurt hashtag is added to every post.

“We’ve had just under 2 million views of that hashtag,” adds Pinet. “The tweet that launched ‘Painfully Aware’ was seen 5000 times, which is some of the highest engagement we’ve ever had.”

Both Dr. Wittmeier says her perspective has evolved as a result of her work with SKIP.

“You listen carefully to your patients every day in clinic, but being able to explore a topic back and forth and ask ‘What do you mean?’ has been a fascinating process,” says Dr. Wittmeier, who joined the clinic in 2016 after it started in 2015. In 2017, they brought families together for the first time to see how they could make the clinic better.

“Every time we work with patients on projects or resources, we learn how to do it differently,” adds Dr. Wittmeier. “It definitely changed how we engage with patients inside and outside clinic. Having SKIP behind us brings another level of credibility.”