Canada is a land of geographic, environmental and cultural diversity. It is one of the world’s largest land masses while having one its smallest population densities. As a result, Canadians and their health care providers must find creative and innovative solutions to complex health problems across a broad set of contexts. At the same time physiotherapy in Canada represents a proud and close-knit community, offering unique opportunity to connect with physiotherapists across this country we call home.
The simple answer is ‘why not now?’. Many professionals, experts and futurists recognize that the world is changing, driven largely by a growing and diversifying population with shifting demands and an explosion of new technologies. The age of the professions as we know them is likely coming to an end as information and artificial intelligence becomes more and more accessible. It is time for physiotherapy to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask itself how it’s going to continue to fit within the health care environment of tomorrow. If we don’t set the ship on the right path now, it may be too late to change course in the near future.
The Waltons are more than a Canadian family of four that has developed a strong bond through both adversity and success. Dave and Amanda are both proud physiotherapists; Dave is an academic at Western University (London, Ontario), a futurist and respected thought leader in the field, while Amanda has accumulated over 20 years of clinical, administrative and leadership experience in private, hospital, and community-based environments. Together with their 2 daughters, they possess the necessary skills, attitudes, and access to resources to make this project not only successful, but accessible and impactful.
How are we going to accomplish this?
Road trip! Beginning at the end of June 2017, the Walton family and collaborators will travel across Canada, from Newfoundland to the Yukon Territory stopping at as many physiotherapy centres as possible, restricted only by time and funding. Settings will be vetted by a collaborative group and identified specifically for those with inspiring or innovative stories to tell. One-on-one or focus-group interactions will be recorded and transcribed, while video will be captured to tell the story of the setting, clinician and/or client, with consent from the relevant parties. The road trip is expected to last approximately 2 months, with additional settings in Southern Ontario visited through September/October using London as a home base for 1-2 day trips. Professional video editing services will be contracted for the purposes of assembling a high-quality documentary-type video. Experts in qualitative research will collaborate to create multiple scientific outcomes and publications. This website along with Twitter, YouTube and other social feeds will provide shorter more frequent updates on the project as it moves across the country.
What will we produce?
The products of this project will be several: Dave will drive the academic and research side, together with collaborators from Western University he will be employing grounded ethnographic qualitative research methods to rigourously capture and analyze the discussions held with clinicians and patients during the cross-country trip. We expect at least 4 scientific publications in openly-accessible journals as a result: 1. Defining mobility to Canadians, 2. Research priorities for physiotherapy in Canada, 3. Recommendations for change in training programs for physiotherapists, and 4. An environmental scan of innovations and their impact in physiotherapy practice. Several other dissemination activities are being planned, including talks delivered at professional association conferences, narrative pieces for professional newsletters, and ongoing communications through Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other social platforms. Finally, a freely-accessible documentary-style film will be produced highlighting physiotherapy in Canada and inspiring stories of Canadian’s mobility through adversity. Segments of the video will be included in the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s promotional materials for the 100th anniversary of physiotherapy event in 2020.
What’s the impact?
The project will provide researchers with direction for setting strategic research priorities, clinicians will be inspired and motivated to push and adopt change that ensures longevity of the profession, policy-makers will be reminded of the value of physiotherapy as an integral part of the health care landscape, educators will be encouraged to review their current training curricula to make sure it aligns with future trends, regulators can use the information gained to ensure that current policies not only manage risk but also allow clinicians to practice in a way congruent with the direction of the profession, and the Canadian public will recognize and support the value of physiotherapy for keeping them mobile and productive across the lifespan.
How can you get involved?
We encourage you to follow along, and get involved in this incredible project. Find out how you can contribute by visiting the Get Involved tab at the top of the page. We look forward to sharing this journey with you, Canada!