York and Bruyere Research Institute studying how to live well in residential care

York University Professor Pat Armstrong

York University Professor Pat Armstrong will collaborate with Ottawa’s Bruyère Research Institute in a major project to identify healthy aging strategies in long-term residential care.

York University Professor Pat ArmstrongThe Government of Canada announced funding for the “Healthy Ageing in Residential Places” (HARP) project Thursday.

Armstrong and her team will identify promising practices for thinking about, planning and organizing for active, healthy aging in residential long-term care. The study at Bruyère is a pilot for research that will be done in Ontario, Sweden, Norway, England, and integrated with a larger project in Scotland, Germany, two US states and four other Canadian provinces. The focus on promising practices reflects the researchers’ conviction that there is no one right way to delivery long-term care, and that all the study jurisdictions can learn from practices elsewhere.

“By taking a broad view of health that includes mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects, we hope to identify healthy aging strategies that will enable both residents and staff to live better, perhaps longer and more fulfilling lives,” said Armstrong, who is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology at York University.

“Bruyère is honoured to be working with international leaders in the field of seniors’ research,” said Peter Walker, chief scientific officer of Bruyère Research Institute. “This funding will not only support research required to ensure that seniors can age in health and dignity, but also enable Bruyère to learn from innovators in other jurisdictions.”

Comparative, collaborative case studies are central to the project. They will provide detailed information on physical, economic, environmental, social and behavioural conditions that shape and define healthy aging for residents and staff in specific care facilities.

The main technique is the application of a new method in this field – rapid site-switching ethnography. It is designed to capture the rich detail necessary to identify strategies for active, healthy aging by bringing local and foreign researchers together to study two facilities in each country.

The funding from the Government of Canada was provided through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.