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Turning ideas into action

Dietitian serves up new cookbook catering to ketogenic dietsImage of a smiling women wearing a headscarf and holding a spatula

To treat a condition called refractory epilepsy — epilepsy that medication isn’t able to control — dietitians sometimes recommend a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is made up of foods that are high-fat and low-carb, which encourages the body to use fat, rather than the glucose (sugar) in carbs, for energy. The diet has been highly effective in decreasing seizures in children.

Figuring out what meals to make can be challenging for many parents. And when you add in specific dietary requirements, it becomes a whole new ball game. After receiving many requests from parents, CHEO dietitian Sophie Parnel assembled a cookbook full of recipes that fit with the ketogenic diet. All the recipes are even dairy and gluten-free.

“I practiced the recipes and there were a few failures,” Sophie says. “But after a couple attempts, I made some really good food.” Sophie compiled the winning recipes into a booklet that families can take home. The recipes are tasty and freeze well, saving parents plenty of time. Sophie is working on sharing her cookbook with dietitians across the country. 

The Rover

This summer, our Cardiology clinic introduced a new a role to the team, a mobile sonographer, fittingly called, “The Rover.” What’s a sonographer you might ask? Sonographers perform ultrasound scans which use sound waves to create a picture of body organs under the skin. These scans help us uncover any problems in someone’s heart, stomach, thyroid – you name it! Image of eight women smiling

Like other sonographers at CHEO, The Rover performs ultrasounds, but with one key difference. Instead of scanning outpatients who visit the cardiology clinic after being referred by their family doctor, The Rover works with patients who are currently staying at CHEO and need their heart scanned. Previously, inpatients were sent to the Cardiology clinic, where staff would need to fit them in between already scheduled outpatient appointments. Now all patients get the scans they need, when they need them, without constantly having to rearrange appointment times, which would cause delays. Having someone dedicated to serving inpatients shortens wait times and gets children and youth the care they need even sooner!

New toolkit helps set kids up for successImage of three young women holding items from the toolkit

Any two children the same age can be at very different stages as they develop basic language and other skills. And when you add the complexities of autism, the differences can vary even more. Therapists at our Autism Program’s Fisher Park location created a toolkit, made up of a variety of tests and activities, to help them more easily and conveniently assess each child’s abilities.

“Before starting a child on a program, we use the new toolkit to give them a baseline test,” Senior Therapist Alison Johnson says. The toolkit allows therapists to measure many different skills such as, receptive and expressive language, and fine and gross motor skills. For example, one activity involves 100 pictures of common items which the therapist asks the child to identify. Based on how many they are able to properly identify, the therapist then knows which items the child needs to learn. In other words, the information gathered allows the team to match children to the programs that will best help them learn and develop.

In addition to tests and activities, the toolkit also includes forms to track the child’s progress as they take part in skill development programs.

This new toolkit for measuring skills is easily accessible to all therapists at the Fisher Park location and helps them to assess very different children in a consistent way. It ensures children’s learning plans are tailored to their needs, helping them to reach their full potential. This is yet another example of how our staff makes sure the needs of kids come first!

Advice on transitioning to adult care, by youth for youthImage of group of staff and patients outside CHEO building smiling

Transitioning from the comfort of a pediatric health-care centre to the adult world can feel overwhelming and sometimes even scary. To prepare young adults for this big change, our Connected Care and Youth Forum teams collaborated with youth currently in pediatric care and those who have recently graduated, to create a short video. This video was developed as a resource for youth, families and staff to help prepare for an upcoming transition to adult care.

“We wanted youth to be a part of the solution,” Chantal Krantz, Manager of Connected Care says. “We wanted something fun where youth could educate other youth.” The goal was to have young adults provide feedback and advice to other teens who are about to make the leap into the adult world – peers helping peers.

There were roles for everyone! In addition to starring roles, some youth helped out behind the scenes and assisted with cameras, lighting and other technical duties. Shyness was not enough to discourage teens from having a hand in creating this resource.

The video is a nice addition to the existing transition toolkit, especially since it brings in the youth perspective. This project demonstrates how important it is to partner with the children, youth and families we serve and the great impact it can have for everyone involved.

Using Pinterest to share activities and information with patientsImage of Hasmig Adjeleian holding an iPad displaying her Pintrest page

As Millennials become parents, we have a growing group of parents who are digital natives of the internet jungle. To provide an easy-to-access resource for this new wave of parents, Occupational Therapist Hasmig Adjeleian created a Pinterest page filled with activities and information to help kids grow and develop.

“More and more people want to be emailed rather than phoned,” Adjeleian says. “And I was constantly looking for new ways to engage with families.” Adjeleian noticed that more parents often used a cell phone and found it hard to put aside time for reading. Dumping piles of paper into a parent’s arms no longer fit the bill. Searching through Pinterest for activities for children, Adjeleian found a spark of innovation. In fact, she was browsing on it.

“When parents express interest in a topic, I can update the page,” Hasmig says. “It’s a constantly growing resource of sound and up-to-date information.” Hasmig says that parents always seem delighted when she shows them that helpful advice and tips for their child can fit right in their pockets.

Just as generations of youth are vastly different from one another, so are generations of parents. Hasmig’s innovation opened a simple, helpful and fun channel for today’s tech-savvy parents.

Road Map to Recovery: Helping parents care for their child after a tracheostomy

Image of respiratory therapy team smiling and holding copy of 'Roadmap to Recovery'

Getting used to breathing through a tracheostomy isn’t easy. Kids/youth who have had this surgery often face challenges coping in their daily lives. Parents worry about caring for the trach and want to know how to keep their child safe

at home. To make this transition easier, our Respiratory Therapy team created the Road Map to Recovery. This colourful, inviting guide helps parents understand what to expect and provides a checklist of clear steps to make the transition home as safe as possible.

Pulmonary Function Lab reduces wait times by half

Photo of four staff and one physician smiling

Doctors are very good at listening, learning and adapting. When research began showing that asthma is over-diagnosed in Canada, local community physicians listened and adapted.

They started requesting the tests required to correctly diagnose the condition — spirometry and methacholine challenge testing, which is only available for children and youth at CHEO’s Pulmonary Function Lab (CPL). As a result, community requests for this testing increased and wait times to crept up, becoming as long as nine months.

Then it was CHEO’s turn to listen and adapt. CHEO pediatric respirologist Dr. Tom Kovesi and the CPL staff changed the way they worked, allowing them to absorb this new, heavier workload and get wait times back down to three months. Read more.

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