Building networks and hearing from Albertans – IMAGINE Citizens 2018 year in review

By Judy Birdsell and Charlie Fischer

Four years ago, the grassroots movement that became IMAGINE Citizens was born with Friday morning meetings at the O’Brien Institute for Health at the University of Calgary involving a small group of people passionate about health and health care. This past year has been one of our busiest. Here is recap of IMAGINE Citizen’s accomplishments throughout 2018.

  • We talked to Albertans, through three events in Calgary, Edmonton and Medicine Hat. At these meetings, we heard Albertans’ stories and shared what IMAGINE Citizens is doing.
  • The IMAGINE Citizens Collaborating for Health Society was registered on Oct. 16, complete with Objects of Incorporation. This new status enables us to broaden requests for funding support and simplifies possible future application for charitable status. We thank law firm McCarthy Tetrault for its pro bono support.
  • The O’Brien Institute for Public Health reconfirmed its willingness to support us and to receive charitable donations on our behalf. We are immensely grateful for the support of the institute for the past four years.
  • What makes IMAGINE Citizens unique? We now explain that in a new value proposition that will soon be published.
  • We are working to identify two or three additional high priority projects for which we are most likely to receive funding, and we are in active discussions with two potential funders. At least one of these projects will focus on building capability among citizens.
  • We are collaborating with Catherine Pearl, a professor at Mount Royal University, for a course she teaches on social innovation. Her students are working with IMAGINE Citizens to identify and develop a case for support for a social enterprise.
  • We introduced our first module of Health Care 101 – Healthcare Basics for Albertans. This is the first of four modules developed in collaboration with several partners (and co-led by the Strategic Clinical Networks) and designed to give Albertans information they told us they need on our health-care system. The other three modules are Finding My Way (how to navigate the health system to find what you need), Being my own Advocate (speaking up for your own health care and how you experience health care) and My Rights (knowing your health-care rights and learning what you are responsible for).
  • In January we released the final report that provides input on two key policy directions in primary care – attachment and health home. The project, completed with Alberta Health funding, can be seen here. The results of that report have influenced how Alberta Health and other key stakeholders speak about care received close to home.
  • We have established working relationships with four primary care networks, important steps in focusing on one of our two priority areas for potential influence. We are also an active partner in the Collaboration for Change initiative, in which primary health care partners explore new ways to engage with citizen-patients.
  • IMAGINE Citizens members are also involved in several national projects – notably with Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (Bridge to Home Collaborative), Canadian Patient Safety Institute (a network of patient-led groups with an interest in safety) and we have joined SCAN Health as a strategic partner.

Next year, we’ll keep the momentum going. Look for an update on our plans for 2019 in the next newsletter.

About the Authors

Judy Birdsell and Charlie Fischer are co-chairs of IMAGINE Citizens. Judy is principal of On Management Health Group, a company that consults across Canada on organizing and policy in health care, health-care research and the voluntary sector. Charlie is retired CEO of Nexen, serves on a number of boards and became a health-care advocate after his own experience with cancer treatment in Alberta’s health-care system.