SickKids' Journey to Cultural Competence

Last modified by Ann Watkins on 2016/03/23 15:20

SickKids' Journey to Cultural Competence


  • Karima Karmali
    Director, Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Child and Family-Centred Care
    The Hospital For Sick Children


"In April 2009, the New Immigrant Support Network (NISN) at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) was established through generous funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The aim of the NISN is to improve access to quality health care and health information for newcomer children and families through the provision of cultural competence education, increased access to interpreter services, and translated patient health information. The NISN, in collaboration with experts at SickKids, surpassed the expectations of CIC by developing cultural competence initiatives that went beyond the original funding goals.  

Achievements include: 

  • Delivery of cultural competence education to 1850 clinicians. 
  • Delivery of cultural competence education to 275 non-clinical staff. 
  • Translation of 300 hospital information and health education materials into 9 languages. 
  • Translation of the website into French and simplified Chinese.

A number of measures were taken to ensure sustainability of the NISN’s work, including: 

  • Development of a cultural competence educational film. 
  • Development of 15 cultural competence e-learning modules. 
  • Development of a cultural competence champions program. 

A key initiative of the NISN has been to share its resources and materials with other healthcare organizations to increase access to culturally competent care across the healthcare system. Therefore, we:

  • Trained over 300 individuals from 84 organizations through a province-wide cultural competence Train-the-Trainer program.   
  • Disseminated our work at conferences, regional meetings, and community presentations.

Research and evaluation has been fundamental to the NISN’s work, and has demonstrated the following program successes:

  • Evaluation activities indicate that the education program is resulting in practice changes among staff at SickKids. 
  • Patients’ reported satisfaction with healthcare providers’ sensitivity to cultural needs increased after the implementation of cultural competence education. 
  • Through research, key barriers and challenges faced by new immigrant children and families seeking healthcare within Ontario have been identified. 
  • Face-to-face interpreter services and telephone interpretation usage increased after cultural competence education and in-services were implemented. 


Other resources mentioned in the webinar:

For more information on SickKids' Journey to Cultural Competence and their New Immigrant Support Network, check out the SickKids website at:

Or, contact them directly at:

Presenter Bios

Karima Karmali, RN, BScN, MBA,  is the Director of the Centre for Innovation & Excellence in Child- and Family-Centred Care at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto.  In this role, Karima provides strategic leadership to  advance child- and family-centred care using innovative programs to meet the complex needs of patients and families. She recently led a large federally funded initiative that resulted in significant enhancements in the delivery of culturally competent care for the diverse patient population at SickKids and has disseminated this work to healthcare organizations across Ontario.  Karima has over 20 years of leadership experience in health care and professional practice. She has a strong background in strategic planning and in leading organization and system-wide change.  

Karima is passionate about her volunteer work which has focused primarily on issues related to access to healthcare and social services for marginalized populations.  She has a special interest in international health issues and has volunteered in parts of Central Asia.

Karima obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from McGill University and a Masters of Business Administration from Queens University. 

Created by Doug Maynard on 2012/07/20 21:22