Bringing Together Healthcare Providers and Family Caregivers

Researchers create digital educational tools for healthcare providers aimed at increasing the quality of care in long-term and assisted living settings.

When an individual transitions into long-term care or assisted living, quality of care is the number one concern for family. Will the caregiver show my mother the same attention I’ve been giving her? Will my friend feel comfortable to ask their caregiver for assistance if needed?

Two research teams from western Canada and a team from Australia have joined forces to create online educational modules tailored for healthcare workers employed in long-term care and assisted living.

Led by University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing assistant professor Dr. Roslyn Compton (PhD), Dr. Alison Craswell (PhD) of the University of Sunshine Coast in Australia, and Dr. Jasneet Parmar from the University of Alberta, the team aims to provide healthcare workers in long-term care and assisted living access to online education to build capacity in caring with families and persons living in long-term care to maximize quality of life.

“Family caregivers are essential members of healthcare teams caring with people living with complex care needs in long-term care and assisted living,” said Dr. Compton. “Family caregivers should be explicitly and intentionally included and recognized as an integral part of the healthcare team.”

Compton said although there has been much effort to promote patient- and family-centered care to improve quality of life, family caregivers are not consistently involved. Healthcare workers lack education on the importance of integrating family caregivers into healthcare teams and need access to training to learn how to partner in care with family caregivers.

“Care coordination and navigation between healthcare workers and family caregivers is not always easy,” added Dr. Compton. “Education, training, and support for healthcare workers is needed to support the movement for this change.”

Compton and her team are modifying an existing course into six, 15-minute digital modules to be used in Saskatchewan and Queensland, Australia to focus on professional development for healthcare workers. Specifically, the modules will increase healthcare worker’s ability to identify and include family caregivers as team members in caring with older adults living in long-term care and assisted living.

“The project will have a positive impact on the people of Saskatchewan, as the healthcare workers who complete the online education will have an increased level of comfort knowing how to integrate family caregivers within the care team,” said Compton. “Ultimately, having the family caregivers on the care team will increase the quality of care and quality of life for persons living in long-term care and assisted living.”

The Advancing Relational Care with Older Adults in Long-Term Care and Assisted Living: An Online Education Intervention for Healthcare Workers project has received funding from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation.