Canada and partners invest $1.8M in strengthening pandemic preparedness

From: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

December 4, 2020, – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact on the health and well-being of older Canadians living in long-term care (LTC) and retirement homes. Finding immediate and long-term solutions to protect vulnerable older adult populations against the virus and ensuring safe and healthy care settings for those who live and work in them are crucial in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

To help ensure these efforts are informed by the best available scientific evidence, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors, announced today an additional investment of more than $1.8 million to fund 14 Implementation Science Teams of researchers from across Canada. This research funding complements new investments in long-term care announced by the Government of Canada in the Fall Economic Statement.

The research teams will partners with LTC and retirement homes to study the effectiveness of promising practices, interventions, and policy options designed to keep the residents, their families and caregivers, and staff at these homes safe from COVID-19. With the support the funding, research teams will be able to support the implementation of these interventions and evaluate their outcomes and impacts to understand their effectiveness in LTC and retirement homes across Canada. Findings from this research will be key to strengthening current pandemic preparedness, and mitigating risks and consequences of future outbreaks.

The LTC Implementation Science Teams initiative is led by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, and has received funding support from Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, powered by Baycrest and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Quotes

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted systemic problems in long-term care and retirement homes. Research projects like these are essential to building capacity and expanding our knowledge about what we can do now and in the future to keep the residents and workers of long-term care and retirement homes safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

“All seniors in long-term care deserve to live in safety and security. This important research will open communication channels within the community, giving them the opportunity to share promising health care practices and find solutions to support the care of seniors. It’s part of our work to help better support and protect seniors in long-term care.”

The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors

“CIHR is pleased to work with partners to fund important research supporting long-term care and retirement homes during this pandemic. Research is key to informing policy and practice solutions to protect our vulnerable older adult population and the essential workers who provide care. It also provides the needed scientific knowledge to strengthen pandemic preparedness in these care settings.”

Dr. Michael Strong, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

“We are pleased to welcome the 14 implementation science teams that will partner with homes participating in the LTC+ Acting on Pandemic Learning Together program. These teams will provide important access to early learning and insights so healthcare leaders across Canada can act quickly to strengthen their pandemic preparedness for better quality and safety with and for those living and working in long-term care and retirement homes.”

Jennifer Zelmer, President and CEO of the newly amalgamated Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and Canadian Patient Safety Institute

“Long-term care homes are an important part of a thriving community and we need to do all we can to ensure all feel safe and cared for in those settings. Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation is proud to be a part of this national collaborative effort and to support a Saskatchewan team that will address the needs of residents, caregivers and staff in mitigating the profound impacts of this continuing pandemic.”

Patrick Odnokon, CEO, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation

“NBHRF is proud to partner with CIHR and all of the other funders on this extremely important research. We have New Brunswick-based researchers participating in the projects. Senior’s health is a priority for this province as we have the fastest growing population over the age of 65 in the country.”

Peter Brenders, CEO, New Brunswick Health Research Foundation

“We have never had a greater need for mobilizing innovative approaches to support older adults in long-term care and retirement homes than in the face of COVID-19. This initiative plays a critical role in meeting that need, and CABHI is thrilled to join our pan-Canadian partners to support the LTC Implementation Science Teams. We aim to amplify program impacts and help ensure the spread and scale of the most promising interventions to reach as many residents and workers as possible, to keep Canada’s older adult population safe and healthy during the pandemic and beyond.”

Dr. Allison B. Sekuler, Managing Director, Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, powered by Baycrest

“COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for research to improve the health and care for seniors and those living in long-term care facilities. Now, more than ever, we need to strengthen our pandemic and emergency preparedness so we can improve future care. This is why the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research is pleased to provide support, along with the BC Ministry of Health and the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council, to BC-based researchers to conduct important patient-oriented research that will help inform near-future sustainable practices and strategies for long-term care facilities.”

Dr. Bev Holmes, President and CEO, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

Quick facts

  • Canada has had a higher reported national proportion of COVID-19 deaths for older adults living in long-term care than any other country worldwide, with more than 80% of total COVID-19 deaths occurring in LTC homes (Canadian Institute for Health Information, New analysis paints international picture of COVID-19’s long-term care impacts, June 25, 2020).

  • The Implementation Science teams will work with long-term care and retirement homes from across the country who are part of the LTC+ Acting on Pandemic Learning Together program. LTC and retirement homes from across the country are joining LTC+ to strengthen their pandemic preparedness and response through national huddles, coaching, virtual learning, and funding opportunities.

  • The researchers being funded today are conducting what is known as implementation science (IS). IS occurs when scientists examine whether a particular practice works by testing it in the real world. It allows researchers to better understand how to adapt a particular intervention so that it will work best in different regions, under different conditions and with different populations. Implementation science seeks to answer the questions “what works for whom, under which circumstances, and why does it succeed or fail?”

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