‘PEPP Squad’ at Halton Healthcare creates better patient experiences for children and their families

November 15, 2023

Oakville, Ontario - Halton Healthcare has been seeing an unprecedented number of paediatric patients in emergency – approximately 40,000 in the space of 12 months – with serious illnesses such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and asthma.

This surge is anticipated to last 2-3 years and we can expect even higher volumes and sicker children during the winter months. To prepare for that, paediatric leaders developed an innovative training model called the PEPP Squad, a Paediatric Emergency Practice Partnership to upskill emergency department (ED) staff and physicians in the unique needs of young children.

An expert team of ED/Paediatric Professional Practice Clinicians, paediatric/ED nurses, Chief of Paediatrics, Child Life Specialist, Registered Dietitian, and Respiratory Therapists developed teaching materials and offers skills workshops and just-in-time teaching at the bedside/chairside.

The Paediatrics team uses a PEARLS framework – Promoting Excellence And Reflective Learning in Simulation – which is the gold standard method of experiential learning. The in-the-ED scenario-based simulations provide a safe, supportive environment with hands-on training that includes learning about codes, using mannequins to simulate vital signs, practicing assessments, and debriefing, which allows learners to reflect, ask questions and discuss outcomes.

Another initiative is Train the Trainer workshops, which create dyads of physicians and nurses who can then train their own teams, creating an exponential increase in the number of staff who are more confident in caring for children.

The PEPP Squad approach is having a very positive impact, reducing the pain and anxiety children experience in their treatment while in the EDs and creating a sense of safety for them and their families. The response from staff and physicians is also very positive with 15-30 participants in simulation sessions and many repeat participants.