The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it unprecedented challenges. We, at the TRP, have adapted swiftly to ensure that the program continues to be delivered smoothly. This is a personal memoir by our sessional instructor Christopher Klinger, shedding light on how COVID-19 has affected knowledge translation.
Christopher A. Klinger, TRP Translator & Sessional Instructor, May 2020
Yes, these ARE difficult times –
and while the focus needs to remain on (health) care/service provision at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, the Translational Research Program team itself immediately rose to the challenge. Under the strong leadership of Drs. Ferenbok and Foty, it almost seamlessly created a new, online environment for knowledge facilitation and transfer alongside (community) service, empowering student-led initiatives such as Project Northern Lights.
With the LMP 2320H Methods in Practices and Contexts course and LMP 2310E Student-led Work and Research Module (SWARM) module successfully moved online for the remainder of the Winter 2020 term, my focus shifted to knowledge translation for one of the ongoing projects conducted in my other role as Chair of the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly’s (NICE) End-of-Life Issues Theme Team: A scoping review of the literature toward knowledge gaps regarding informal caregiving at the end of life.
Commissioned by the Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition of Canada (QELCCC) as the largest stakeholder coalition in the field, the actual review had been completed with second-year TRP students Andrew Wan, Ankita and Zoey Li. Strategies/distribution channels for knowledge translation had to be adapted, and posters and presentation materials adjusted for the COVID-19 landscape to be created in a timely fashion.
In mid-March 2020, Andrew Wan co-presented on research findings at a caregiving webinar hosted by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and a knowledge synthesis piece was pre-recorded for the Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA) / Carers Canada as part of National Carers Day activities (April 07, 2020). It is now available for download as part of the Caregiver Resource Expo at: https://www.carerscanada.ca/ncd-empowering-caregivers/.
Furthermore, with the Ontario Hospice Palliative Care Conference going virtual, an online presentation was prepared for oral presentation at the end of April 2020 and a scientific poster for viewing via the conference website was designed.
The scoping review itself, following Arksey and O’Malley’s framework, identified 33 peer-reviewed and grey literature sources for inclusion and specifically acknowledged informal caregivers as important members of the hospice palliative care team. In line with the TRP’s mission to drive change, a better understanding of the physical, psycho-social and financial challenges faced by informal caregivers was gained and will inform and advance future practice, policy, and research – i.e., moving swiftly from the current to the future desired state via the Toronto Translational Framework (TTF).
Next steps include the preparation of a manuscript for publication in collaboration with TRP Translator Dr. Raza Mirza (), the development of an infographic and the creation of an evidence-based caregiver tool to be distributed as part of the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly’s catalogue of tools in both a hard copy and electronic format. It is hoped that these multi-channel activities (as emphasized during the LMP 2310E Knowledge Translation and the Community module, co-facilitated with Dr. Mirza) will help to bridge the knowledge gap and enable caregiver-centric innovations that improve medicine, health, and care during COVID-19 and well beyond.
For the TRP students’ perspective on the work (Andrew Wan and Zoey Li), please also visit https://twitter.com/hashtag/TRPHeroes?src=hashtag_click.
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Christopher A. Klinger, Ph.D. is a Sessional Instructor I with the Translational Research Program (TRP) at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, and Research Scientist with Pallium Canada – a national non-profit evidence-based organization focused on building professional and community capacity to help improve the quality and accessibility of palliative care. His research interests are in health systems and policy, with a focus on hospice palliative/end-of-life care. He also chairs the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly’s (NICE) End-of-Life Issues Theme Team, a knowledge transfer network dedicated to enhancing the care of older adults both in Canada and abroad, and the Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition of Canada’s (QELCCC) Research and Knowledge Translation Committee, a group of national stakeholder organizations concerned about quality end-of-life care. Furthermore, Christopher is a frequent presenter at aging, hospice palliative care, and public administration conferences.