For the love of the game: Group of therapists at Horizon’s SJRH create para ice hockey program to give everyone a chance to play Canada’s sport
It was a Canadian Tire commercial that aired during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics that got Lynn Fletcher thinking: Why doesn’t Saint John have a para ice hockey league? In the commercial, a dad brings his son, who uses a wheelchair, to a pond to play hockey, outfitting him with a sled used in para hockey. A year later, that inspiration has become a reality, as Lynn, along with four colleagues in Therapeutic Services at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital have set-up a para ice hockey program in – and for – their community. Fundy Para Ice Hockey is an association for anyone in the Greater Saint John area with or without disabilities who wants to try para ice hockey, formerly known as sledge hockey. The group was started by Lynn, and fellow OTs Danielle Chase, April Lambert and Tina Meeg, and physiotherapist Kristy Murray. They wanted to offer a low-cost winter activity to their community — one that showed people that if you have a disability or illness they are still ways you can stay active. The message of the commercial is the same as the one the group wants to convey through the league: Yes, anyone can play hockey. Para ice hockey is just a different way of playing it. Off-ice conditioning The group of women has kids that play hockey, and some even play hockey themselves or are
Dear Staff, Physicians and Volunteers, Since first joining Horizon over two years ago now, I have seen an improvement in the way Horizon is perceived in the community and in the media. Please be assured I am not taking credit for this development. It is the work you do every day that is being recognized, and for this, I am your biggest cheerleader. Horizon has always had a wealth of good news stories to share. And in the past I believe we lacked some of the communication channels, and perhaps, the confidence
A welcome note from the editor Welcome to the 16th edition of the Horizon Star! I hope the snow has completely melted away from our streets, sidewalks and parking lots by the time you’re reading this — that will be a sure sign spring is here! This new season brings with it a reinvigorating sense of purpose in our work (and a promise of summer just around the bend), as now is the time to plant seeds for future growth. This could be in your personal life, as you prepare your soil for your garden bed, which will foster the growth of nutritious and delicious vegetables, fruits and herbs. Or, this could apply to your professional life, as you invest in your role as an employee with courses, webinars or even a fruitful discussion with someone you haven’t met before. Maybe you even want to turn that spring cleaning into an official Waste Walk by signing-up for spring training with the Performance Optimization team and then be entered into their contest for some great prizes! Many who read this issue will be new grads, joining the Horizon team with new perspectives and skill sets. They will be oriented and welcomed by a team of veteran and experienced leaders in learning and organizational awareness. We are at our best when we have a team that’s a mix of both groups. In this issue, there are several stories on new research, new programs, and new faces. On page 16 you’ll meet the new chair of our Patient and Family Advisory chair, while on pages 8 and 14 you’ll read about new pieces of health care transforming the patient experience for the better. There are also pieces on storied teams, like the Atlantic Sleep Centre and Library Services, which have long brought advice and support to patients, clients and you and your colleagues. For the first time, our cover story features the volunteer work of Horizon employees. Turn to page 5 and you’ll read the story of a group of occupational therapists and physiotherapist who are using their work and life experience to bring Canada’s sport to everyone with a new para hockey program for Saint John. As always, it’s an honour to share your stories, and I hope you’ll continue to reach me at HorizonStar@HorizonNB.ca
to share them with our staff and public directly. Over the last 16 months Horizon’s Communications department has introduced more channels to share our stories and celebrate our employees. We now are active on social media; we profile stories of patient care in the Horizon Stories feature on our website; we have In Your Community, a publication about Horizon work that is improving community health; and we’ve recently created our newest channel — Horizon’s Community News Channel, where all this work, including videos, link together in one place. These channels, as well as this publication, the Horizon Star, allow us to learn from, and about each other. In an organization as large as we are, it’s sometimes a challenge to feel connected to staff that work in different departments and facilities. These storytelling channels allow us to grow as one organization. If you have story ideas you think would be of
Members of the Fundy Para Ice Hockey league at their first on-ice session.
as stopping during the learning stage involves running into a wall or each other). And while most of the equipment is the same, para ice hockey is played with a sledge and two modified hockey sticks, each with picks on one end to stick into the ice. The group invited the captain and assistant captain of the Fredericton Capitals para ice hockey team to lead their first on-ice session, and that’s where Tina got the full experience of just how difficult this sport can be. She quickly realized the crucial combination of upper body and arm strength, endurance, balance and a level of fearlessness that puts trusts in two narrow blades and a small seat. She was inspired by the less-fearful teenagers who’d quickly pop-up back up after falling down and supported by a set of blades that were widened during the learning process to make the sledge easier to balance. Even those who are new to the sport have experienced victories they may have never thought possible. Lynn remembers the smile of the face of a young girl who scored her first goal – and had two assists – during one of her first scrimmages. “Everyone looks the same,” said Danielle. “You can’t pick out who would have a disability or not.” “That’s the beauty of it,” said Lynn. Work connections Playing para ice hockey is a lot like occupational and physical therapy in that it involves solving a problem of functionality to allow a person to be able do something. That’s what these OTs and PT do in their everyday work. “We all went to school to help people be as independent as possible and I think this is just another part of this,” April said.
involved with other sports. Most of them are “at the rink all the time.” They quickly discovered that unlike Fredericton, Moncton and Sussex, Saint John didn’t have a para hockey program. However, there were sledges and other pieces of para ice hockey equipment at rinks across the city, and those pieces of equipment weren’t being used. The group began meeting during their lunch hours, and outside of work hours, and started developing the program – everything from a name, logo and swag, to sponsorship and advertising, to learning the rules and ice times. The program couldn’t have been possible without their many partners. They received a Go NB! Wellness grant from the Government of New Brunswick, and worked closely with Ability NB, Para New Brunswick, Hockey New Brunswick, Canadian Tire Jumpstart, and the City of Saint John. On-ice success With the support of these partners they were able to book ice times, purchase jerseys and swag, and offer a six-session learn-to-play program at no cost during February and March. The group advertised the program at hockey rinks, schools, on social media and with stakeholders, and welcomed 30 players from ages nine to 50, including father-son duos, friends, moms and brothers. Participants didn’t need to have any experience with hockey, and were all levels of ability, including players with disabilities and able-bodied players. The first session was in the gym, which allowed players to get the feel of the sleds on wheels – instead of blades. They also had to learn the rules, many of which are similar to ice hockey: it’s five-on-five, plus a goalie, and icing and off-side calls still apply. The penalties, called by upright referees, are different, though, and you can’t T-bone another player with your sledge (which is quite difficult,
Karen McGrath President and CEO
interest, please share them with our Communications team. If you’re working on some research or a new program that would be interesting to the public, Horizon would love to profile it. Every day Horizon provides safe and quality care to our patients, clients and their families. The large majority of those patients/clients are thankful for the care they receive at any of our 100 facilities. Many patients/clients have wondered in the past how to say a special thank you to someone that made their health care experience less hectic, or even enjoyable. Based on the success of the Bravo! program as a way to express gratitude and recognize a job well done among staff, now patients/clients and families can access the Bravo! program. Even before the official launch to the public, we received some Bravos! from the public from time to time. Introducing this opportunity was a very important step for our organization as we understand that recognition of good work instills pride and engagement with our staff and physicians. I look forward to recognition increasing across Horizon. By the time you are reading this, my spring CEO tour will be underway. During this forum, I will be looking to you to share your ideas for Horizon’s new strategic plan. The plan is set to be released in 2020, and we want input from as many stakeholders as possible. I am looking forward to some great discussions! In addition, don’t be surprised if I ask you to follow me on social media! After seeing the engagement happening on Horizon’s social channels, I could not resist. Please follow me on Twitter (@KarenCEOHorizon), Instagram (@KarenMcGrathCEO) and LinkedIn.
with new ideas. Happy reading,
Front row, from left: occupational therapists Lynn Fletcher and Tina Meeg. Back row, from left: occupational therapist Danielle Chase, physiotherapist Kristy Murray and occupational therapist April Lambert.
Karen McGrath President and CEO Horizon Health Network
…continued next page Look Who’s Shining! Know someone who’s accomplished something outstanding outside the workplace? Nominate a colleague, peer or volunteer for this feature by emailing HorizonStar@HorizonNB.ca .
GinaBeth Roberts Editor, Horizon Star
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