Standardized education material a huge step forward for tracheotomy and ventilator patients and their families.

Our goal is to help these families get home. We want to be sure families are confident and competent when caring for their child with a tracheostomy or ventilator, says Juanita Davis, Pediatric Trach Coordinator at the Alberta Children's Hospital.

With the tremendous help and expertise of family advisors, Davis and her team have been working hard on creating standardized education material that is also accessible online for families and caregivers. And, as of late May, those resources are available publically on the FCRC website! For parents to have information at their fingertips within seconds is a huge support when taking care of their child at home. The materials are part of a comprehensive education program that also includes simulation training where parents can practice their new knowledge in a safe environment.

The average hospital stay for children with a ventilator or tracheostomy is long. Children don't go home until they are medically stable and the parents need to be capable of caring for their child with complex airway needs. The Tracheostomy and Ventilator Education Program at the Alberta Children’s Hospital supports families and caregivers to develop the knowledge and skills needed to safely care for a child with a tracheostomy in the community. Once parents have completed the education modules they begin simulation training on a manikin.

It's very important that we get to know our families so we can simulate their home environment. Tailoring emergency situations and making it as real as possible helps parents practice in a safe environment which increases their confidence and capability of being ready in the real world with their own child, comments Davis.

Once simulation training is complete, families must be competent with their own child as well. Each family has a road map and milestones to achieve in their training before their child can be discharged from the hospital. Milestone examples include taking their child around the hospital by themselves, going off site for a few hours and then progressing to a day pass and then an overnight pass.

Davis hopes to further expand standardized education materials to include skills videos on the website and her team will definitely partner with family advisors to achieve that goal! Working with family advisors every step of the way has been such a hugely rewarding experience. It keeps everything we do family-focused, states Davis.

Juanita Davis was brought to the project in 2015 because of her background in home care and her experience in simulation. We are using medical simulation for families … this is amazing stuff! We hope that what our program does for families can be used as a model for other programs at ACH as well.