... And the Difference is You!

Research & Caregiving Engagement Session 2023

Presented by the Perley Health Centre of Excellence in Frailty-Informed Care™ and interRAI

The role of non-professional caregivers will become increasingly important due to demographic trends. Canada’s population of seniors is expected to triple in the next few decades, and threatens to overwhelm current approaches to housing and caring for seniors, particularly those living with frailty. This engagement session aims to bring organizations and individuals together to develop appropriate solutions.

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Dr. Annie Robitaille, Commissionaires Ottawa Research Chair in Frailty-Informed Care left, moderates panel discussion with researchers and
caregivers. From left to right: Dr. Annie Robitaille, Linda Hunter, Inga V. Kristinsdottir, Dr. John P. Hirdes, Dr. Connie Schumacher, Dianne Leclerc,
and Walter Robinson.


Prioritizing Input from Caregivers

The experiences, perspectives and needs of non-professional caregivers — typically family members — took centre stage during a unique international gathering in Ottawa June 27–29. The Perley Health Centre of Excellence in Frailty-Informed Care™ (CoE) hosted the gathering alongside interRAI, an international network of researchers and practitioners determined to improve the care of people with medically complex needs.

During the first two days, interRAI experts presented the latest research about the health and well-being of non-professional caregivers. On the final day, several of the experts participated alongside non-professional caregivers in a ground-breaking panel discussion about caregivers’ needs and the future of care. The audience included representatives of more than 20 care and research organizations.

The panel featured the first public discussion among interRAI researchers and non-professional caregivers. All participants expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to exchange views freely during what proved to be a lively and informed dialogue. Among the many issues discussed: how best to recognize and value the efforts of caregivers; how best to involve caregivers in research into the use of technologies that could improve care; and at what point does the monitoring of care become excessive and potentially compromise privacy considerations. There was much discussion about the collection of data related to those who receive care and how these data could be used more efficiently and shared more readily between various providers.

All participants concurred with two key ideas, including one expressed early in the discussion: “If you’re not a caregiver now, you will be one at some point in your life.” The participants also agreed with the need to prioritize informed conversations among those who receive care and those who deliver care — both professional and non-professional.

  • Read the media release: Research and Caregiving Engagement Session

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Panelists and Presenters

  • Marty Carr is the City of Ottawa Councillor for Ward 18, (Alta Vista), where Perley Health is located. A long-time volunteer for school boards and other community groups, Marty is a strong advocate of Perley Health and of policy improvements in seniors care and housing.
  • Dr. Brant E. Fries is a founder and President of interRAI, and Professor Emeritus of Health Management and Policy and Research Professor Emeritus of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Fries has helped develop multiple interRAI assessment systems, including the Self-Report of Carer Needs (SCaN).
  • Dr. John P. Hirdes is a Professor in the School of Public Health Sciences, University of Waterloo and a Fellow of the Balsillie School of International Affairs. In addition, he is the Senior Canadian Fellow and a Board Member of interRAI
    (www.interRAI.org), and chairs both interRAI’s Network for Mental Health and the interRAI Network of Canada.
  • Linda Hunter is a retired nurse and executive health care leader, a member of the Advisory Board for the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis and a Patient Engagement Research Ambassador with the Canadian Institutes
    for Health Research (CIHR). She is a patient advocate and has lived with chronic pain for over 15 years. Linda is also an essential caregiver to her mother, who lives with dementia.
  • Inga V. Kristinsdottir is an Advanced Practical Nurse in Home Care at the Primary Health Care Centre in Reykjavik and Ph.D. student at the University of Iceland. She is also an interRAI Associate Fellow.
  • Dianne Leclerc is a retired nurse and nurse educator, and tenant of Perley Health’s Senior Living apartments, where she volunteers actively. Dianne served as essential caregiver to both of her parents during their final years.
  • Walter Robinson is currently Chair of the charity We Are Young and member of the Perley Health Foundation’s Answering the Call Campaign cabinet. He has more than 25 years’ experience in national public affairs and government relations in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Walter was a caregiver to his mother in her final years.
  • Dr. Annie Robitaille is an Assistant Professor in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa and Commissionaires Ottawa Research Chair of the Centre of Excellence in Frailty-Informed Care™.
  • Dr. Connie Schumacher is an Assistant Professor in Nursing at Brock University. Her research program includes applications of interRAI assessments and decision-support tools in home and group settings.
  • Sirrý Sif Sigurlaugardóttir is a Gerontological Social Worker at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Iceland. She is the head of The Council of Specialists in Gerontological Social Work for The Icelandic Federation of Social Workers and chair of The Icelandic Gerontological Society.
  • Dr. Natalie Vereker holds a PhD in Gerontology and currently works for Ireland Health Service Executive. She is the interRAI Fellow for Ireland National interRAI Programme Manager. 

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We thank the following organizations for their attendance, interest, and support:

  • Brock University
  • Canadian Institute for Health Information
  • Carefor Health and Community Services
  • Champlain Region Family Council Network
  • City of Ottawa
  • Family and Friends Council, Perley Health
  • Ireland Health Service Executive
  • New Vision Health Team (Kitchener)
  • NWC Longevity Practice
  • Ontario Long Term Care Association
  • Ottawa Community Housing Corporation
  • Perley Health Foundation
  • Regional Geriatric Program of Eastern Ontario
  • The Council on Aging of Ottawa
  • The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County
  • The Ontario Caregiver Association The Royal Canadian Legion University of Iceland
  • University of Michigan University of Ottawa
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Waterloo
The Centre of Excellence is made possible by the generous support of donors to the Perley Health Foundation.