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Grenfell prof obtains grant to investigate Centres on Aging

By Pamela Gill

The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research (NLCAHR) has awarded a $20,000 grant to a research team led by Dr. Leslie Cake of Grenfell’s psychology program. That grant will be supplemented by a $5,000 grant from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.

The seed grant comes through NLCAHR’s 2009-10 Newfoundland and Labrador Healthy Aging Research Program.

The title of the project is Building an Evidence-Based Framework for the Development of a Newfoundland and Labrador Centre on Aging. Dr. Cake, principal investigator, and other members of the team, will travel across the country to visit 13 Canadian Centres on Aging to gather information on their activities and structures. The co-investigators are Dr. Sharon Buehler, Kelli O’Brien, Dr. Gail Wideman, Dr. Michelle Ploughman and Carla Wells. The team also includes collaborators from seniors’ groups across the province who will help review the information gathered. Ultimately, the information collected will inform the potential establishment of a NL Centre on Aging and assist in defining its precise nature and activities.

Statistics Canada has projected that by 2016, Newfoundland and Labrador will have the highest proportion of seniors in Canada.

“This centre would increase the province’s capacity to conduct research on aging and to provide services for/with seniors in partnership with seniors’ organizations and governments,” said Dr. Cake, who has been researching the concept since 2008.

“Given the rapid growth of our seniors’ population, a better understanding of aging and the provision of services for seniors are priorities for all levels of governments. The provincial government has acknowledged the need to address the opportunities and challenges associated with our aging population in the Healthy Aging Policy Framework and Implementation Plan,” said Dr. Cake.

The current project builds on a desirability/feasibility study conducted for the administration of Grenfell College in 2008-09. Phase I of the Grenfell study reviewed 33 existing Canadian Centres/Institutes on Aging. Phase II assessed feasibility via extensive consultations with groups and individuals at Grenfell College, the Western Regional School of Nursing, and Western Health. Dr. Cake also met with a group of community, government, and academic representatives based in St. John’s. Phase III of the Grenfell study is ongoing with expanded consultations with the NL government, community and academics to further identify aging-related research interests and to determine provincial resources currently available to seniors.

“Recently, some of the people with interests identified during Phase II agreed to work collaboratively toward a provincial Centre on Aging beginning with the development of the seed grant proposal,” said Dr. Cake. “We have formed a research team and a planning group with province-wide representation that includes academic, health board, and community partners.”

The research team will produce a report that will include analyses of Centres on Aging visited and contain options and recommendations for developing and designing a NL Centre on Aging that fits the needs of the province.
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