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Areas of Focus

Aging in Society

We are focused on aging, the impacts of social and economic factors, and how the health and social care system can support health and wellness across the entire life course. The following are some of the specific topic areas we are actively exploring in this field:

  • Living with dementia
  • Aging and mental health
  • Age friendly communities
  • Intergenerational connections
  • Public and cultural perspectives on aging (ageism etc.)
  • Supporting family/friend caregivers
  • Health and social care for frail older adults

Why Aging in Society?

Most health services research in aging is focused on utilization patterns, programs and interventions for the treatment of illness and disease in frail older adults. While this type of research is important, it only captures a snapshot of the impact of aging on the health and social care of Canadians. By exploring the social and economic context of population aging today, tomorrow and into the future, we are finding ways to support health and wellness across the entire life course.

How did we get here?

Our journey of research to support family/friend caregivers has been foundational to the priority research field of Aging in Society.

As the Canadian population continues to age, the health care system is relying more heavily on family/friend caregivers to meet the growing demand for care. The impact of caregiving on the health of Canadian caregivers can be negative without the appropriate caregiver supports in place.

In 2011, we partnered directly with family/friend caregivers to explore their needs for education and support and heard that caregivers want and need proactive supports to help them thrive and equip them with the tools and resources they need to protect their role in providing care. Unfortunately, the current system of caregiver support is focused on treating caregiver “burden”.

Together with family/friend caregivers, we developed 20 promising practices and 20 indicators of effective caregiver education and support to promote a shift in thinking from treating caregiving like a disease to proactively supporting caregivers at every stage in their care journey. We then developed a website to help caregiver education and support programs respond to the promising practices and indicators. This research also informed the development of Elizz©, SE Health’s caregiver support and home care services program that addresses caregiver needs across the ELIZZ 5 life stages of Caregiving©.

What are we currently working on?

Co-designing tools for strong partnerships between persons with dementia, their family/friend caregivers and health care providers

Working with the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada (ASC) we are facilitating a co-design process between persons with dementia, their family/friend caregivers and health care providers to develop user-friendly tools to support the negotiation of person- and family-centred care roles and relationship building in home care and long-term care settings. Preliminary findings indicate the need to clarify the scope of ‘dementia care’ along clinical, relational, task-based and emotional dimensions. The full results of this research are expected to be available in March 2019.

Developing an integrated geriatric care planning approach in home care: common assessment, person and family-centred goal-setting and interdisciplinary collaboration

Using survey, interview and co-design methods we are developing a more seamless home care planning experience for older adults, their family caregivers and the health care providers. Preliminary findings indicate that integrated care planning should be grounded in two person-and family-centred themes: 1) the information that everyone needs; and 2) the experience that everyone wants. The full results of this research are expected to be available here in August 2018.

Taking a life course approach to person - and family-centred dementia care: A scoping review

We are exploring research evidence on different models of dementia care and services in order to understand how they are similar, different and align with a person- and family-centred philosophy of care. Preliminary findings indicate the need to take a life course approach when choosing the most appropriate model of care and setting to support persons with dementia and their family/friend caregivers. The full results of this research are expected to be available here in April of 2018.