Employees at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network are taking ideas and turning them into concrete tools and actions.
Emily Lyter, administrative director of Good Shepherd Learns, Creates and Research at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, said the network is looking to harness employees’ enthusiasm, natural curiosity and deep dedication by offering them an opportunity to research their ideas and turn them into actionable plans that can help patients get better.
To that end, the initial Good Shepherd Innovation Grant of $200,000 provides financial support and development opportunities for projects that may define the future of rehabilitation, she said.
The project got underway in July. Lyter said all employees, whether clinical or nonclinical, have the opportunity to apply for the program which provides mentorships that enable employees to learn about business plans and technology.
“We want to support our employees and their ideas,” she said. “The grants provide them with the opportunity to engage in research they may not otherwise be able to.”
Good Shepherd collaborates with colleges and other research facilities. The first round of projects involves 45 employees with two project coaches.
One example, Lyter cited, is pressure mapping to determine the best way to sit in a chair. “If you sit in a chair too long, pressure can increase,” she said. “There is no information right now, so a team is looking at how long a person can sit in a position before issues arise.”
Another project is looking at how art can be used as a therapy tool, especially for younger patients. Lyter said in occupational therapy, often a patient is asked to move pegs around a board. “Many are not engaged in this,” she said. “But if they can dance or paint, they will be engaged, and outcomes will be improved.”
Artists teach therapists to use art to make tasks meaningful. Lyter said this is being looked at for autism patients to improve the social connection as well. “It’s fun and serves a purpose,” she said.
The program is geared toward engaging employees and allowing them to grow by teaching them how to go about developing an idea as well as creating new concepts and tools.
Lyter said when an employee or group of employees have an idea, the grant allows them to develop preliminary data. They write a business plan and then can apply for outside funding to continue developing the data, she said.
The coaches help with creating the business plan and grant writing – anything the project needs. “This helps employees grow and learn new things. This is about the individual. We have a lot of caring people and without this program, their ideas would have nowhere to go.”
Lyter said Good Shepherd patients rely on technology to function. That can be as low key as using devices such as an Alexa for text to speech to high tech equipment like robots that can help feed someone.
Many of the projects in the second round of grants will focus on improving or creating technology such as this, she said.
“The program is paying off,” Lyter said. “We expect it will continue to grow because the projects address real needs.”