ECHO: Learning without limits

Logo of Project ECHO, Pallium Canada & BCCPC

No matter where you work – urban, rural or remote – keeping your skills current and staying abreast of evidence-based best practices can be a challenge. Taking the time for education and connecting with peers is often the first thing to be cut from a busy schedule.

ECHO is an ideal combination of education, peer connection and collaboration.

It’s been a little over a year since the BC Centre for Palliative Care became the provincial hub partner for the Palliative Care ECHO Project in BC. (There are six other hubs across the country).

Especially focused on helping community organizations and health care professionals that are geographically distant from education opportunities or don’t have access to training, and those who are working with underserved populations, the Palliative Care ECHO project in BC is all about connection. The project is guided entirely by principles of inclusivity, person-centred learning, empowering and inspiring partners and creating a collective impact through collaboration and network building.

What’s an ECHO?

The ECHO model creates virtual knowledge-sharing networks by bringing together healthcare providers and subject matter experts using videoconference technology, brief lecture presentations, and case-based learning, fostering an “all learn, all teach” approach.

The ECHO model is flexible and can fit whatever learning need a group identifies. An ECHO can be centred around a:

• Specific subject, such as a particular condition, patient population or challenge (e.g., ECHO for cancer patients)

• Discipline (e.g., ECHO for pharmacist, primary care health care providers, community support workers, or volunteers)

• Geographic location such as a multidisciplinary ECHO that focuses on the context and location where care is provided (e.g., ECHO for care providers in rural or remote communities, or communities with underserved or vulnerable populations)

Working *with*, not training *at*

At the Centre, we see our role as walking beside interested groups, rather than dictating what they need to do.

“In essence, we’re the ‘co-‘“, explains Tina Lowery, Project Manager, Strategic Initiatives. “When working with a group interested in the ECHO platform, we support them by co-planning, co-delivering and co-evaluating the series. First and foremost, it’s their ECHO – we support by keeping the sessions on track, provide project management support and links to tools and resources.”

Fostering communities of practice

Taking a community development approach to the ECHO sessions, the groundwork is laid for establishing vibrant, sustainable and effective communities of practice for community organizations and health care professionals, no matter where they are in BC. ECHO creates a network of care providers and increases their access to education and interprofessional networks.

“The end result is all positives,” says Tina Lowery. “Community organizations and health care providers are connected with education and peer support, palliative care competencies are strengthened and patients and their families benefit from best practices.”

“I see ECHO as a pathway to learning without limits. I hope that as we connect with more ECHO participants, we can reach even more communities of health care professionals, community organizations and volunteers.”

ECHO uses videoconferencing to create knowledge sharing networks.

The “all learn, all teach” approach leverages subject matter experts, lecture presentations and case-based learning.

At BCCPC, we support groups by co-planning, co-delivering and co-evaluating the series.

First and foremost, it’s their ECHO.

 

 

Participants agree…

In the surveys done at the end of ECHO sessions, 100% (yes, you read that right) of the respondents said: 1) the sessions are relevant and that they learned something new, and 2) what they learned with be useful in their practice.

Here’s what they said:

“There is little to no supervision at my work and ECHO sessions help create space for case reflection and expand on my knowledge of evidence-based practice.”

“Today’s session was inspiring! ECHO sessions are really developing into very meaningful connection and learning”

“I am also pleased that our partners have been developing sessions that support patient populations that are underserved. Two examples are “Supporting the bereaved after a substance use-related death: building hope and resilience in grief’ and “Serious illness conversations and disenfranchised populations: the importance of using a trauma-informed, trust building approach with structurally vulnerable/disenfranchised populations””.

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