Aging centre seeks to craft better entry to long-term care

As Greater Victoria’s senior population grows, so will the strain on long-term health care systems.

As Greater Victoria’s senior population grows, so will the strain on long-term health care systems.

Last week federal and provincial governments awarded two University of Victoria researchers from the Centre on Aging more than $330,000 toward investigating how older adults transition through long-term care services.

Margaret Penning and Denise Cloutier will lead the study aimed at understanding the common pathways that people experience, with an ultimate goal of providing better care.

“Once we identify some of those common patterns, we want to say ‘Are there particular individual and social factors that are common to their experiences?’” said Cloutier, a professor in the university’s department of geography.

The study will evaluate data collected from people aged 75 or older connected to the Fraser Health Authority, the fastest growing health authority in B.C.

Penning, of the UVic department of sociology, and Cloutier, will evaluate individual trajectories based on age, gender, income, social factors and available community resources.

“We don’t understand a lot about what makes people spend a certain amount of time in home care and then transition into residential care. Or why they would go to residential care immediately, and then around that, what happens when they go in and out of hospital,” Cloutier said.

“It is on those transitions that people are the most vulnerable. If we can learn more about those transitions and who’s most vulnerable, we can presumably, plan better care and services in the years to come.”

Diane Finegood president and CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research spoke to her own personal experience of having just witnessed a family member’s transition to long-term care.

“I know we really need to understand those transitions better and really think about how to ease them and make them less inconvenient,” Finegood said.

“If we’re going to tackle and overcome the challenges we face with the changing demographic of our culture, the rising costs associated with new technologies and the availability of resources, we need research and we need to put that research into practice.”

Transactions and Trajectories in Late Life Care: Patterns and Predictors is funded by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, B.C.’s health research support agency ($99,967), and the federal Canadian Institutes of Health Research ($233,259).

nnorth@saanichnews.com