Innovating for the Marginalized with the Scarborough Centre For Healthy Communities
First, let’s set the scene:
- Scarborough is a diverse and vibrant home to 1,000,000 Canadians, of whom 77% are visible minorities and 57% foreign born.
- SCHC is a vital part of the fabric of Scarborough, offering community support and health services, including 40,000 food bank visits, 3,400 visitors to the CHCs, and 6,100 palliative care visits in 2021.
- As of 2021, SCHC employed 205 employees and 350 volunteers offering 33,000 volunteer hours.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, SCHC administered 2,500 vaccines to vaccine hesitant Scarborough residents.
- SCHC is working hard to operationalize innovation through pilots and to grow a culture of understanding the need to constantly improve offerings, fundings models, and the community experience.
SCHC offers almost every health service under the sun, including day care, food banks, transportation, hospice, sexual assault and domestic violence counselling, and youth entrepreneurship. Heavy, substantial and varied programs. If this was a company, it’d be simple to suggest more focus. For instance, General Electric is famous for crashing after entering every sort of business line, including filmmaking, investments, appliances, aviation, insurance, plastics, and nuclear power plants. Yet, SCHC serves Scarborough residents and if they don’t serve these needs, what other institutions will? They're the net at the bottom catching what other institutions let fall. Not bad is still much better than not at all.
SCHC also knows their audience much better than we could. Many of us at Boardroom Labs were born and grew up in Scarborough. It’s home. Yet, it’s a vast, sometimes dense place with pockets of culture, diversity, and struggle and it’s folly to think we can understand it all.
So how did we help SCHC innovate and thus serve Scarborough’s residents better? Easy, we didn’t. Rather, we focused on helping SCHC build the foundation for innovation. We believe that by empowering frontline workers with the knowledge, tools, and support to innovate, far more positive change will occur than if we mapped initiatives and designed pilots. We’re not launching a new consumer packaged good. Innovation with SCHC needs to be frugal, compassionate, and trustworthy.
We began by hosting a workshop with the SCHC’s innovation committee, led by Callum Tyrrell. We started with a simple icebreaker: tell us one boring thing about you and one barrier to innovation at SCHC. Then our two facilitators, Michael Savage and Andrew Walls told personal stories of the highs and lows of being an innovator. Finally, we mapped pain points and opportunities in the cancer screening journey and ideated what capabilities we’d need to bring each opportunity to life. We laughed, explored, and learned together.
Innovation is a long journey. Next, we’re focused on helping SCHC define their strategic pillars and map possible initiatives and capabilities to them, potentially even in the form of a not-for-profit new venture, to help SCHC serve Scarborough’s residents for the next 5 months and 50 years alongside bringing what we build to other CHCs around Ontario.
"Boardroom Labs believed in our vision of creativity with purpose and unleashing the wisdom of collaboration with community from the start. From innovating on cancer screening prevention initiatives to transformational AI opportunities, Boardroom Labs has been there in a multitude of ways, always supporting and encouraging our mission to serve the most marginalized, while encouraging diversity of thought. Thank you Boardroom Labs!"
Vice President, Integration, Innovation, and Engagement @ SCHC