PRIDE at the IWK

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Halifax Pride is an 11-day annual festival that began this year on August 12 and will continue through August 22. The festival features pride-organized events and celebrates the history, culture, activism, and perseverance of the 2SLGBTIQ+ community.
As health care providers, we are continuous learners on how to serve our populations in inclusive, safe, and welcoming environments/spaces. Our ability to adapt our traditional ways of thinking to meet the needs of our patients and families is a strength that we all must learn and re-learn as the needs of our community develop and evolve. Pediatric Rehabilitation Service’s efforts for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are a great example of the effort being made every day by our healthcare professionals.
“In the past year, our EIBI team has built a new Diversity Allyship and Equity (DAE) Committee,” says EIBI manager, Heather Osborne-Vincent. The purpose of the new Committee is to provide education and support staff across the province. “Over the past year, reports, documents, and toys have been re-evaluated and changed to become more inclusive and reflective of the diverse families we serve. Toys and containers that had pictures of heteronormative, cis-gendered families were removed for gender-neutral, more inclusive and toy-specific images.”
Krista Sweet, clinical manager of Rehabilitation Services, also describes efforts that the Kids Rehab Clinic team has made last year to implementing action from learning opportunities they attended on how to provide more inclusive care. “As a team, we adapted our intake interview to include gender-inclusive language and made sure all of our professional signatures include our pronouns. We also began using anatomy terms in the clinical setting that are person-centred rather than gender-centred.”
“We don’t always get it right, but our team’s awareness has certainly increased since we had the education provided by the IWK about gender diversity,” says Sweet. The EIBI-established DAE Committee supports EIBI staff in continuous improvement in diversity and inclusion. “Continuing to have educational opportunities, listening to the stories of others, and making ongoing improvements is helping to foster a sense of belonging and safety for the 2SLGBTQIA+ coworkers and families,” says Osborne-Vincent.
A clear foundation of inclusivity work is the need for action and adaption over the need for perfection. According to IWK Health diversity and inclusion coordinator, Tyro Setlhong, the need to try is much greater than the need to get it right every time when it comes to establishing a more inclusive environment for patients and their families.