Seniors Adding Life to Years (SALTY)

MSFHR is providing matching funds to support the work of a BC team lead by Dr. Kelli Stajduhar as part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Team Operating Grant: Late Life Issues initiative. Other funding partners include Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and Alzheimer Society of Canada.

Late life is a time when older adults and their caregivers face health and social issues that can impact their well-being. Everyone wants to live well in their final years, but this may be a challenge, particularly for people living in residential long-term care (LTC) settings.

A multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral team of researchers, care providers, administrators, policy makers and older adults and their families from across Canada have come together to better understand how to add quality to years in the last phase of life for people in residential care and their caregivers. Seniors-Adding Life To Years (SALTY) is a four-year research project that will evaluate promising programs, practices and policies currently employed in four provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia – to support change in how decision makers and practitioners provide care and support in long-term care across the country.

Led by professor Janice Keefe at Mount Saint Vincent University and director of the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging, the study team will develop innovative strategies to understand and assess the impact of existing programs on quality of care and quality of life, with the goal of rolling out effective approaches in jurisdictions across Canada.

SALTY’s research program is organized in four interrelated research streams or problem areas, each applying a different perspective to the late-life trajectory in LTC. Dr. Kelli Stajduhar, of the University of Victoria’s (UVIC) School of Nursing and Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health is co-leading one of the streams. Stajduhar is joined by Drs. Denise Cloutier, also with the Centre of aging and UVIC’s department of geography, and Leah MacDonald, medical director of Island Health’s End-of-Life program. The BC research team is evaluating an implementation project entitled “Improving End-of-Life Outcomes in Residential Care” taking place in four Vancouver Island LTC homes. The goal of the implementation project is to facilitate a promising palliative approach in the context of care provided in LTC facilities for people with life-limiting conditions. Additionally, the team’s evaluation will provide evidence to support application of the project in other provinces.

End of Award Update – June 2022

Most exciting outputs

Each stream of research addressed issues of significant importance, such as quality of life and care for staff, residents, and family in long-term care (LTC); quality improvement in end-of-life care; policy and procedural landscape in LTC; and measurement issues in LTC. The most exciting research output was the establishment of relationships with key stakeholders, decision makers, family members, and research trainees.

Impact so far

In BC, Island Health was able to implement a quality improvement project with an in-depth evaluative component. Improvements to the project were made in real time because of the evaluation. As a result, the impact of the project was immediately understood (and improved). As such, palliative approaches to care in long-term care have been implemented across the health authority.

Potential influence

A new generation of scholars was engaged across the country resulting in networking opportunities that otherwise would not have happened. There are now established partnerships and mentorships between early-, mid-, and late-career scholars and decision makers in long-term care planning and practice. This will ensure that institutional knowledge and lessons learned are carried forward, while the next generation of research is widely shared between scholars and decision makers at all stages of their careers.

Next steps

Dissemination and KT activities continue.

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