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Researcher studies ways to improve end-of-life care for people with chronic diseases

Health-care system needs to sharpen focus on those living and dying in long-term care, says Lorraine Venturato, chair in gerontology

With a greying population and an increase in chronic disease and frailty, more Canadians can expect to live their final years and ultimately die in long-term aged care settings.

What that means to Lorraine Venturato, associate professor and Faculty of Nursing Chair in Gerontology, is that the health-care system needs to focus more energy on improving end-of-life conditions for those living and dying in long-term care.

Venturato is the provincial lead on a national, CIHR-funded study exploring a novel palliative approach in long-term care.

“We have many evidence-informed aspects of end-of-life care,” she says. “This study is really about combining them into a unified approach in order to evaluate real-world application and feasibility within the Canadian long-term care context.”

Study exemplifies faculty’s focus on applying research outcomes into practice and policy

The faculty’s ability to take research outcomes forward into practice and policy underpins the three research priorities in the new strategic plan: advancing nursing education, child and family mental health, and living well with chronic conditions.

Venturato is convinced the results from this study, which falls under the last pillar, will play a key role in developing transformative care and improving health outcomes and service delivery for people living with chronic conditions.

End-of-life care not just about clinical decisions, but relationships and support

“At the end of the day, we hope that residents and families have a better experience at end of life, and that staff and services are better prepared to work with these people,” she says. “As researchers and educators, we can ensure our findings reach our students as future providers of this care.

“There are many components to end-of-life care. It’s not just about the clinical decisions we make, but also the relationships and support that people have,” adds Venturato. “For most of us, it’s the last thing we get to do well. Providing quality care for people in long-term care at the end of their lives can make a huge difference, and knowledge and compassion can go a long way in this area.” 

Learn more about Leading the Pursuit of Nursing Excellence, the Faculty of Nursing's 2017-2020 strategic plan. 

The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases was named in 2008 in honour of Joan Snyder and her parents, who she credits for teaching her the value of philanthropy. It is a group of more than 104 clinicians, clinician-scientists and basic scientists who are impacting and changing the lives of people suffering from chronic diseases, including sepsis, MRSA, cystic fibrosis, type-1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For more information on the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, please visit us at www.snyder.ucalgary.ca or follow us on Twitter @SnyderInstitute.