Long-Term Care Project

The Research

The Long-Term Care Team will focus on tailoring, implementing, and evaluating a multi-faceted suite of ACP tools in four long-term care (LTC) settings in southern Ontario. Although death is a commonplace in LTC, palliative approaches to care, including ACP, are still rare in LTC environments in Canada and abroad.


Work to date:

  • The Long-Term Care Team continues to work with participating long-term care homes by connecting with staff in the form of Champion Team Meetings held on regular basis. During these meetings, research staff are able to provide study updates to the sites and get feedback on study activities.
  • The team is also involved with Family and Resident Council Meetings. Research staff have been invited to attend these meetings to present the project to family and resident representatives at each site. This helps with recruitment and promotion of the project, as well as being able to answer any questions they may have.
  • The team is continuing to recruit and enrol residents and family members into the project. To date, there are 63 participants across 3 participating sites. Participants are asked to complete an ACP toolkit called the Conversation Starter Kit and provide feedback in the form of pre/ post surveys and interviews. This phase of the project will continue until June 2019.
  • Principle Investigator Sharon Kaasalainen will be presenting baseline findings from the focus groups completed with long-term care staff at the 16th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) in Berlin, Germany in May 2019.
  • Principle Investigator, Sharon Kaasalainen and the long-term care research group has been awarded a CIHR Project Grant which is expected to start in April 2019. It builds on previous CFN-funded work involving the implementation of the Strengthening a Palliative Approach in Long-Term Care (SPA-LTC) Program in a total of 8 homes throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Manitoba. The project is an Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) and will run for a duration of 5 years. The team plans to further the spread of the SPA-LTC program and evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of it using a total of 18 control and 18 intervention homes. The ultimate goal is to explore what needs to be done to adapt/contextualize the SPA-LTC program so that it can be scaled up across diverse settings and provinces.

Principal Investigators:


Sharon Kaasalainen, RN, BScN, MSc,PhD

McMaster University

Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at McMaster University, an associate member of the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster, and an Honorary Professor at Queen’s University in Belfast. Dr. Kaasalainen obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Health Sciences from McMaster University, and a Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Toronto. Her top three research interests are pain management and palliative care in long-term care; improving the quality of life for older adults living in long-term care; and advanced practice nursing roles in long-term care.


Tamara Sussman, PhD

McGill University

Photo of Tamara Sussman

Dr. Tamara Sussman is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University. She obtained her undergraduate and master’s degrees at McGill University, and a PhD in Social Work at the University of Toronto, followed by a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program at the University of Waterloo.  Dr. Sussman’s  program of research focuses on how health services and systems impact older adults and their family members, including spousal careers’ experiences with home care; older adults’ and family members’ experiences with the transition into long-term care; barriers and facilitators to the delivery of effective interventions for depressed older adults and their care partners;  the needs and experiences of more marginalized older adults in long-term care such as previously homeless older adults and older adults identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and most recently improving the delivery of palliative care in long-term care.



Dr. Valérie Bourgeois-Guérin, PhD
Dr. Paulette Hunter, PhD
Dr. Genevieve Thompson, PhD
Dr. Lynn McCleary, PhD
Dr. Abigail Wickson-Griffiths, RN, PhD
Dr. Patricia Strachan, RN, PhD
Dr. Lorraine Venturato, RN, PhD


Research Staff

Mr. Patrick Durivage, Collaborator, MSc
Ms. Emily DiSante, Project Coordinator
Ms. Courtney Hill, Project Coordinator, RN, BScN
Ms. OliviaVirag, Project Coordinator
Ms. Maria Nicula, Research Assistant