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Patient Population & Services

Across BC, several thousand children require specialized health-care supports due to medical complexity.


Through this redevelopment, BC Children's Hospital and the Provincial Health Services Authority will deliver a first-of-its-kind centre in Canada to support children with health complexity and their families. 

Due to advances in health care and technology, more children with health complexity are living into adulthood than ever before. They represent less than 1% of the pediatric population, but up to 33% of child health provincial spending and account for more than half of pediatric hospitalizations.

Children and youth living with health complexity:
  • have complex, chronic health conditions 
  • have functional limitations
  • have substantial health-care needs
  • frequently use the health-care and social systems.  

Complex, chronic health conditions

Complex, chronic conditions may be conditions that a child was born with or the result of a traumatic or sudden event. Many conditions are rare, can be hard to diagnose, and can include additional complications that affect all aspects of the child's daily life such as seizures, loss of sight or hearing, developmental delays, or behavioural/mental health challenges.

Functional limitations

These children and youth experience difficulties performing daily functions such as eating and breathing, and participating in typical childhood activities. Many need assistive technology and environmental adaptation such as mobility devices (strollers or wheelchairs), breathing supports like ventilators, and feeding tubes.

Substantial health-care needs

Because children with health complexity are often dependent on medications, technologies, and specialized devices, their day-to-day care requires their parent or caregiver to hold specialized knowledge and skills. Social determinants of health also impact family need.

Frequent use of health-care and social systems

In addition to their primary caregivers, these children need multiple subspecialists, health-care providers, and other professionals (e.g., school counsellors, social workers) to be involved in their care. 

Care navigation and coordination

Families find it challenging to navigate the various supports that their children need. Existing services are spread out across the health-care and social systems, other government ministries, and community organizations. 

The complexity of the current environment, along with the limited coordination between different organizations, results in gaps in services and care provider expertise. Families are asking for care coordination, a shared care plan, and support for the whole family.

Training for caregivers and care providers

Not all communities across BC are equipped to care for children with health complexity.  There is a need to build capacity across BC by training care providers to look after these children close to home.

Patient-centred care

The new services are being designed with extensive input from patients, families and caregivers, clinical staff, subject matter experts, Indigenous partners, and various stakeholders who work with this population. If you would like to be involved in future engagement around clinical service design, please visit our Engagement page.

The model of care proposed for the Slocan site will be grouped into four key services to be delivered in person or virtually. Patient- and family-centred quality improvement, research, and ongoing evaluation of the program will ensure best practice and further innovation in the care of children with health complexity.

Care coordination

Families will have access to a single point of contact to support integrated care across sectors. An electronically accessible shared care plan will improve collaboration and communication between those involved in the child’s care. 

Training and education

An inter-professional team will train and support families to confidently care for their child at home. This service will also enhance the ability and confidence of health-care professionals, and other professionals across sectors to support children with health complexity in the communities in which they live. This in turn will build capacity for care of this specialized population across BC and Yukon. 

Family wellness and support

This service will increase access to mental health, emotional well-being, and social connection supports for parents, caregivers, and siblings of children living with health complexity.

Child and family suites

The new centre includes 16 comfortable and welcoming suites for children and their families and caregivers, designed for short, pre-planned stays. These stays will involve more focused training and support to enhance a family’s ability to care for their child. They may include learning new care techniques or using new equipment. The stays will also support families through transitions such as going from the hospital to home, starting at a new school, or transitioning to adult care.
The Slocan program is envisioned with the following principles in mind.

  • Honour parents and caregivers as experts and partners
  • Prioritize trauma-informed approaches, cultural safety, and inclusion for all
  • Strengthen the systems that support children and families
  • Implement concrete actions to address Indigenous-specific racism and advance Indigenous cultural safety and competencies
  • Provide equitable access to services
  • Support function, quality of life, and wellbeing 

The Slocan program is envisioned with the following goals in mind.

Be a truly province-wide service

Support all children and youth living with health complexity no matter where they live in BC or Yukon by providing services both virtually and on site. 

Build capacity in communities 

Comprehensively support children and youth close to home by training and supporting care providers across BC and Yukon; this in turn will minimize unnecessary acute care episodes and travel. 

Ease transitions 

Ease transitions between hospital and home, through changes in equipment and needs, and through key developmental stages including transition to adulthood, by training, educating and supporting families/caregivers and community care providers in the child’s home community.

Provide cultural safety

Provide culturally safe and tailored care inclusive of Indigenous health and wellness practices, in collaboration with Indigenous children and families.

Be inclusive and accessible

Be universally inclusive and accessible to all through effective building design.

Support the whole family

Provide care and support for the whole family–patients, parents, caregivers, and siblings –recognizing that a child’s health depends on the health of the entire family unit. 

Foster innovation

Work with research, education, clinical services, and  patients/families/ caregivers to ensure the ongoing implementation of quality improvement, best practices, and further innovation in the care of children and youth living with health complexity.

Create partnerships 

Create partnerships across the health-care system (both with acute and community care), and social services sector in BC and Yukon, including health authorities, community care providers, non-profit organizations, private agencies, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and other government ministries, and educational partners. 

SOURCE: Patient Population & Services ( )
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