Thesis Talk Thursday
April 15, 2021
GSA Thesis Talk Thursday Features
Since the beginning of the fight against Covid-19, Health Care Aides (HCAs) have been on the front lines, caring for societies' most vulnerable citizens: the elderly living in long-term care. Being unable to provide palliative residents with quality end-of-life care due to the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic may be traumatic.
What inspired you to do your research?
I was working on a surgical unit in the Yukon Territory, and I spent some time taking care of a senior resident from a long-term care facility who didn’t recover as expected after surgery. When he became palliative, his family lived outside the territory, and due to the Covid-19 restrictions, it wasn’t feasible for them to visit. I ended up facilitating their goodbye over the phone, and it felt like an incredibly huge responsibility, with a mix of emotions. I couldn’t help wonder what it was like for HCAs faced with this daily in long-term care.
What is your research about?
The focus of my research will be to explore and understand the experiences and processes in which HCAs approach palliative care for residents in long-term care facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am currently in the beginning stages of formulating a constructivist grounded theory study to answer the following questions: How did HCAs understand their palliative care in the absence of residents' family members, and what was the process behind their palliative care delivery against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic? If HCAs are unable to provide palliative residents with quality end-of-life care due to the unprecedented circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, it could be nothing short of traumatic. Through understanding HCAs experiences, my goal is to highlight the barriers they identify to providing quality palliative care, and to advocate for this population through my research endeavours.
How do you do your research?
Since my research seeks understanding of HCAs' experiences with palliative care processes during the Covid-19 pandemic, a qualitative approach will best guide me in my pursuit of interpreting meaning, which could not be achieved through quantitative methods alone. The bulk of my data will come from rich and open ended research questions I conduct with health care aides. I will come into each interview with a set of both open ended and focused questions to facilitate a natural fluidity to the conversation while ensuring each participant touches on the same topics. As per grounded theory, interviews will then be transcribed so I may code the data, develop categories based on similarities and relationships and hopefully create an interpretive theory. I say interpretive, because in constructivist grounded theory, the researcher acknowledges and embraces their role in co-constructing meaning with particpants, and the ultimate nature of subjective interpretation.
What is the implication of your research?
Through my research, I hope to improve the working lives of HCAs and palliative experiences of residents in long-term care. By understanding HCAs stories, lived experiences and processes in which they approach palliative care during the pandemic, I will be able to share the findings and expose any pitfalls in supportive resources for this population. Between previously working in long-term care as a HCA myself and reading the existing literature of nurse researchers, I strongly believe HCAs are in the incredibly vulnerable position of having policymakers and administrative bodies place the weight of responsibility of caring for our elderly during these times onto their shoulders. I believe nurse researchers can address these experiences with palliative care and play an advocate role brought about through research endeavours for the greater good, and to better prepare for another pandemic-level event in the future.