The building of a body of best practices depends on knowledge exchange among caregivers. There is s growing body of evidence that knowledge exchange (knowledge diffusion) is a core element in building evidence-based practice. However, paid and unpaid caregivers are usually stretched to capacity by the demands of the care-giving role and the limitations of public funding. Consequently, the opportunity to exchange ideas in the pursuit of best practices is limited.
The ADD Trillium Project is engaged in a number of activities to promote opportunity for knowledge exchange. These include:
- The development of regional processes for cross sector dialogue and learning.
- A quarterly newsletter (The OPADD Letter),which is available to caregivers, planners, academics, researchers and policy makers to share their experiences and knowledge.
- The OPADD website which offers descriptions of innovative models and policies, information and resources on aging and developmental disabilities, links to other related sites and initiatives of regional committees.
- Guides for Caregivers, developed with input from people working in the long term care and developmental services systems.
- Papers and reports on topics related to planning and service delivery.
- Presentations to conferences, students, practitioners and policy-makers.
- Fostering dialogue among caregivers, researchers and academics to address questions surrounding aging with a developmental disability.
The goal to be achieved through knowledge exchange is quality of life for older adults with a developmental disability.
Knowledge exchange is not without its own challenges. Some of the barriers to sharing between the developmental services and long term care sectors are:
- The established practices of distinct disciplines.
- The legislative framework of different service sectors
- Prejudices we may have about services with which we are not familiar.
- Our personal fears about aging and death.
The Ontario Partnership, through the ADD Trillium Project and other initiatives is dissolving barriers to understanding in order to enrich the capacity of the system to support quality of life.