Trauma Informed Care: How the IWK is a leader in an international movement

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Health centres across Canada, and even as far away as Australia, are looking to the IWK to help them on their journey in becoming Trauma Informed. SickKids in Toronto and Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa have both contacted the IWK to help prepare and execute their plans.

In 2015, the IWK began its work of becoming a certified Trauma Informed Care (TIC) organization, striving to reflect, acknowledge, and better understand all aspects of trauma as part of its service delivery. It aims to create a culture of collaboration and partnership, learning from patients, families and staff.

Holly Murphy, psychiatric mental health nurse and advanced practice leader for Trauma Informed Care, says TIC team began their journey by engaging the originators of the theory and principles of TIC, Harris & Fallot, out of Washington, D.C.

“TIC is a huge movement across the United States, with some states even going so far as to legislate it,” Murphy says. “We were happy to have thoughtful leaders come in and help lead us through the early days. Now we are looking at how we take that expertise and knowledge across an entire organization and that’s very innovative.”

In late 2017, Murphy presented to CHEO’s interdisciplinary teams, Mental Health & Addictions, and their physician group. She has also presented her field-leading expertise at Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC) Knowledge Exchange Network, the Canadian Public Institute for Health Agency, Trauma Talks Conference and to national conferences for nurses and medical technologists.Just 'by the numbers' page 2018

On a more local level, TIC is engaging with many community organizations and interest continues to grow as agencies look to the IWK as an international leader in this field.

“We have developed collaborative partnerships with African Canadian groups and first nations, Adsum House, Avalon, Chisholm Services for Children, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, Department of Education, Community Services and Justice,” Murphy says. “We are also very fortunate and thankful for the provincial funding we receive for this fundamental work. We are proud of how far we have come, but recognize we still have a long way to go.”

To date, there have been 2,500 internal and external partners educated in trauma informed care. The roll out of TIC continues throughout the IWK, with the next phase including treatment for trauma.

“I think the reason it resonates with patients, families, staff, physicians, volunteers, and communities is that trauma informed care applies to everyone. We all play a role in becoming trauma informed,” Murphy says. “We want everyone to feel safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment in their day to day environments and interactions at the IWK.”

To learn more about Trauma Informed Care, visit