Selkirk College teams up with UBC to help those with serious chronic illness

Six-month study will also look at methods to ease the burden for caregivers

Selkirk College nursing instructor Tammy McLean will co-lead a six-month study with UBC researchers on care for those with a chronic

With increasing numbers of Canadians living with serious chronic illnesses, health care experts are looking for ways to make life easier for them and their caregivers.

Now, UBC researchers are teaming up with students and faculty from Selkirk College for a six-month study, which will teach students how to ease the burden of living with chronic illness for people who are ill and also for their family members. The research is funded by the BC Nursing Research Initiative of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

The project is focused on the Kootenays and will become a clinical practice site for Selkirk’s health care assistant students and its third-year nursing students, explains UBC Assoc. Prof. Barb Pesut, principal investigator of the study.

“A unique aspect of this study is providing education for nursing and health care assistant students together,” says Pesut. “Although nurses and health care assistants work with the same clients they rarely have the opportunity to be educated together or talk to one another about their roles.  Even in practice there may be little interaction between levels of care. Educating nurses and care providers together will lead to better teamwork, higher job satisfaction, and ultimately to better quality care.”

Pesut says researchers are looking for individuals around Nelson, who live with serious chronic illness and who would like to receive home visits from nursing and health care assistant students. The students will be supervised by Tammy McLean, Selkirk’s nursing instructor and co-lead for the study.

McLean says the research project is an example of how students and those living with chronic illness can benefit from working together.

“This is a very exciting opportunity on many levels,” McLean says. “And it’s also important that people living with a serious chronic illness are able to share their experiences and teach our students what their needs are and help inform the nurses of the future.”

McLean is excited that UBC has partnered with Selkirk, saying it’s important for people in the Kootenays to also be involved in high-calibre research projects.

Researchers are looking for about 16 participants and the six-month study starts in January. About 20 to 25 student nurses and HCA students will conduct regular visits in the home. During the visits, topics like symptom management, planning for the future, and access to community resources, will be discussed with study participants.

“There is a definite need to give persons and families the tools they need to manage their serious chronic illness,” says Pesut. “There may be community resources that they may not be aware of, there may be easier ways to help the person with the illness that they don’t know. It’s a case of being proactive and providing tools to help their loved ones during what can be a very difficult time.”

To get involved in the study,  contact Tammy McLean at Selkirk College (tmclean@selkirk.ca) or call 250-365-1286.