Making a meaningful difference in the lives of older adults and their families by bridging research, policies and practice.
How are we making a difference?
- By co-creating technology solutions to enhance the employability of family caregivers – Juggling a paid job while caregiving? Or looking to find a new job after caregiving? If so, we want to hear from you! Please share your experiences with us by completing a 20-30 minute online survey and personal work profile. We are working with Caregivers Alberta and MatchWork to identify the employment barriers caregivers face, understand what drives them to work, and imagine what their ideal work environment might look like. What we learn will be applied to develop a program on Work & Care for Caregivers Alberta and enhance the MatchWork cloud-based platform to help connect people to meaningful jobs. We recognize that caregivers’ time and expertise are valuable; all participants who complete the online survey and personal work profile will receive a $25 gift card for participating. As a project funded by AGE-WELL, Canada’s technology and aging network, we strongly believe that building technologies that solve ‘wicked problems’ like caregivers’ employment starts first by listening to the experiences of caregivers. Let’s get started!
Curious about our project? Read more here: Alberta partnership aims to help unpaid caregivers find flexible jobs
- By debunking public misconceptions – “To most people, caregiving means looking after ailing relatives in their final years. But the reality is much different, with the actual workload lasting up to 30 years for some, according to University of Alberta research. The study, the first of its kind to gauge caregiving across a person’s lifetime, debunks the myth that looking after an ailing loved one is a short, one-off experience. ” Get the full story here.
Did you know that nearly half of young caregivers (age 15-19 years) in Canada care for their grandparents? Young caregivers (age 15-19 years) in Canada infographic was released for International Day of the Older Person on October 1, 2019. We appreciate the feedback provided by members of the Young Caregivers Association in creating this infographic that illustrates that people of all ages are caregivers. When asked when they first started to provide care, more than 40% were younger than 15 years old, growing up while taking care of grandparents, parents, or friends and neighbours. Stories about young caregivers in Canada whose health, social development, education and job prospects are challenged appeared in several news outlets: CBC news, Folio, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun, Calgary Sun, and Calgary Herald.
- By recognizing caregivers – Caregivers are important every day, especially during this unprecedented COVID19 pandemic. On April 6, 2021, National Carers Day in Canada, help us recognize the nearly 8 million Canadians who care for others. We gathered a fabulous group of people from across Canada as part of a panel conversation on Experiences in Caregiving during COVID-19: What have we learned? What has the last year taught us – what’s working? what’s not? and what can make it easier for people who care for family members and friends? As part of #NationalCaregiverDay, we also co-created with our partners at Carers Canada, an infographic on how technology helps caregivers.
- On National Carers Day 2020, we gave a huge thank you to the nearly 600 caregivers in Canada who participated in our Enhancing Caregiver Well-being survey. Your insights were invaluable. In partnership with AGE-WELL NCE, Huddol, and Teva, we’ve created an infographic that highlights findings from the survey about caregivers’ own goals and their technology use. In short, caregivers’ top three goals are to preserve their physical health, mental and emotional health, and financial well-being. While all most all caregivers used digital technology in their everyday lives, only 2 out of 3 caregivers surveyed were using digital technology to integrate their care responsibilities with the rest of their lives.
By using evidence to inform public policy – MP for Edmonton Riverbend, Matt Jeneroux, spoke with Human Ecology 300 undergraduate students in 2020 about the role of research in the policy making process. Dr. Janet Fast provided some assistance to Mr. Jeneroux while he was an Alberta MLA a few years ago in making a case for his private member’s bill (203) to introduce a Compassionate Care Leave for employees working in provincially regulated industries/occupations. It passed with all party support, a rare thing for a private member’s bill! He has since moved on to federal politics. Dr Fast continues to collaborate with Mr. Jeneroux on his federal private members bill C-220 to extend the Compassionate Care Leave to help thousands of grieving Canadian families. We are delighted that Bill C-220 was unanimously passed in the House of Commons! The proposed bill now rests with the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
- Dr. Janet Fast recently collaborated with Caregivers Alberta and the Alberta Caregiver-Focused Coalition to respond to the Government of Alberta’s invitation from stakeholders to provide input to the review of the Continuing Care Act. Our submission uses research evidence to advocate for better policies that improve caregiver wellbeing.
- One of our graduate students, Jonathon Lai, was selected as a 2020-21 AGE-WELL APPTA Policy Challenge participant. The Policy Challenge is an educational program that provides a unique opportunity to AGE-WELL Trainees to work closely with policy experts and learn first-hand how research ideas become policy options for implementation at a provincial, territorial or national level. Released on April 1, 2021, Jon’s report focuses on financial support for older adults during pandemics.
- By integrating research and teaching – Dr. Megan Strickfaden has been selected to be a McCalla Professor for 2020-2022. McCalla Professors are outstanding academic who make significant contributions to the integration of teaching and research, and educational leadership. As a McCalla Professor, Dr. Strickfaden is undertaking a project that integrates research and teaching to advance new knowledge, design practice, and student learning. The project will advance work on a three-part outdoor winter clothing system for seated clients with disabilities. Opportunities to develop a marketing plan, visual identity, and promotional materials will be integrated into HECOL 250 and HECOL 469/569. Congratulations Megan!
- By building capacity among early career scholars around the globe – Dr. Norah Keating led the 2019 GSIA Master Class on older workers at the IAGG Asia Oceania Congress in Taipei. Early career scholars were from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Participants learned from senior international scholars how ageing research in general, and their own research in particular, contributes to varying portrayals of older workers.
Research on Aging, Policies, and Practice (RAPP) is committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of older adults and their families by bridging research, policies, and practice. Drawing on Human Ecology Theory, we consider the environments in which people live their lives, including family, work, community, and policy contexts. We focus on:
- care and support of older adults and adults with chronic illness or disAbilities,
- family caregiving across the life course and its cumulative impact on health, wealth and well-being,
- older adults’ contributions to and social inclusion in society, and
- age-friendly environments and creating livable spaces that enhance older persons’ well-being through design.
Located within the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta, the research centre is led by Dr. Janet Fast and Dr. Norah Keating. Our team collaborates with researchers at other universities around the world and partners with government and community organizations in the conduct of our research, providing an enriching milieu for graduate student education. We are one of a few International Association on Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) Collaborating Centres.