Research Area(s)

  • Disability, personhood, and social inclusion
  • Relationships among long-term care residents, family caregivers, staff, and organizational leaders
  • Family communication and care in long-term care settings
  • Quality of life in long-term care
  • Strengthening a palliative approach in long-term care
  • Health and behavioural psychology, including applications in long-term care


  • B.A. (Honours) University of Regina
  • M.A. University of Regina
  • Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology) University of Regina

Research Projects

Research & Knowledge Translation Projects:

Scoping Design Innovations in Long-Term Care

About one third of Canadians will spend a period of their lives in residential long-term care, and the quality of long-term care is of utmost significance to those who make this transition. Through this systematic review of international research on building design in residential long- term care, we set out to identify the range of long-term care building designs and the associated outcomes for residents, family caregivers, employees, and healthcare organizations. We discovered that small homelike long-term care homes – an innovative building design with strong roots in Saskatchewan – are associated with outcomes of central significance for long-term care, including improved quality of life, improved family satisfaction, and improved staff engagement in work!

Access the results 

Student Lead: Elizabeth Pywell

Funding partner: Paulette Hunter

Getting Results for Long-Term Care Residents: Perspectives from Saskatchewan’s Non-Profit Sector 

Saskatchewan’s non-profit long-term care sector has faced a number of challenges in the last decade, including increased acuity of care, the reorganization of provincial healthcare, and a pandemic. Using 1:1 interviews as a primary method, this project explored the experiences and needs of non-profit healthcare organizations serving long-term care residents, seeking to articulate their vision for quality care, their strategies for remaining resilient, and the supports they rely on to help them achieve their vision.   

Access the results

Student leads: Jyllenna Landry, Yash Tendulkar 

Funded by: Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan, Mont St. Joseph’s Foundation, St. Thomas More College 

The Cup of Care Podcast

Join co-hosts Katie Ottley and Sibtain Ali for a series of conversations with Canadian family caregivers. As guests Marlene, Kayley, Krysta, Sheila, Suzanne, Rina, and Darrel share powerful life lessons on caring from near and far, Katie and Sibtain realise that no two families are alike and that there is much to be learned from hearing each other’s stories.

Find us on Spotify under SPA-LTC, or go to

Student leads: Katherine Ottley & Sibtain Ali

Funding partners: Health Canada & SaskPolytechnic

Strengthening a Palliative Approach in Long-term Care

Today, people live longer with a variety of chronic health conditions. And from the earliest stages of their illness, most people living with life-limiting conditions want their healthcare teams to communicate actively and work in partnership with them to understand their needs, help address their suffering, consider their quality of life, and provide the information needed to plan ahead. While these are all elements of palliative care, they need not be reserved for the last days or weeks of life. To acknowledge that these needs can be addressed earlier, “a palliative approach to care” introduces the original principles of palliative care to a range of settings, such as homes, clinics, hospitals, and long-term care settings.

For more about our team’s research and knowledge translation on Strengthening a Palliative Approach in Long-Term Care, see

Project leads: Sharon Kaasalainen, Paulette Hunter, Lynn McCleary, Tamara Sussman, Genevieve Thompson, Lorraine Venturato, & Abigail Wickson-Griffiths

Funding partners: Health Canada, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Canadian Frailty Network, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation

A Relationship-Centred Practice Model for Long-Term Care

Public trust in the LTC system was eroded by the separation of residents and family caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. To strengthen relationships in LTC, this Health Systems Impact Fellowship emphasizes the co-design of a relationship-centered practice model by SHA LTC residents, family caregivers, staff, and leaders. The project sets out to identify the areas that, if changed, would contribute most to stronger relationships in LTC. The fellowship is jointly supported by Saskatchewan Health Authority and St. Thomas More College.

Student lead: Ivy Myge

Organizational partners: Saskatchewan Health Authority – Patient & Client Experience; Saskatchewan Health Authority – Continuing Care; St. Thomas More College

Funding partners: CIHR Health System Impact Fellowship (partnership funding from SHRF) 

We Hear You: A Conversation-Starter Toolkit to Address Pandemic Burnout 

Led by a team of researchers from Saskatchewan Polytechnic, University of Regina, and University of Saskatchewan, the We Hear You project synthesized healthcare employee wellbeing research from across Saskatchewan over the first 15 months of the pandemic. The resulting conversation-starter kit can be used to share results with healthcare leaders and employees and spark conversations across the healthcare system. The kit addresses four topics on healthcare employees’ minds – burnout, communication, teamwork, and leadership – and contains some of the keys to helping healthcare employees thrive under adverse conditions.

Access the toolkit: We Hear You Toolkit.pdf

Funding partners: Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and Emmanuel Health

Pandemic Experience in Saskatchewan’s Long-Term Care Sector 

Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, our research team has been partnering with long-term care residents, family caregivers, staff, and leaders to understand their perspectives. We’ve studied resident quality of life, videoconferencing visits, nutritional care, recreation, bereavement, family experience, rural experience, employee wellbeing, interpersonal trust, and inter-organizational trust. If you are curious about the results, please reach out to learn more from one of our student project leads.

Student leads: Kayley Lawrenz, Yash Tendulkar, Elizabeth Pywell, Heather Alford, Ivy Myge, Rebeca Pereira, Katherine Ottley, Kirstian Gibson, and Nina Gao

Funding partners: Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation

Selected Publications and Presentations

Hunter, P.V., Ward, H., & Puurveen, G. (2023). Trust as a key measure of quality and safety after the restriction of family contact in Canadian long-term care settings during the COVID-19 pandemic, 128, 18-27.  

Hunter, P. V., McCleary, L., Qiao, T., Sussman, T., Venturato, L., Thompson, G., ... & Kaasalainen, S. (2022). Delivering person-centred palliative care in long-term care settings: is humanism a quality of health-care employees or their organisations? Ageing & Society, 1-18.  

Pereira, R. F., Myge, I., Hunter, P. V., & Kaasalainen, S. (2022). Volunteers’ experiences building relationships with long-term care residents who have advanced dementia. Dementia, 21(7), 2172-2190.

Sussman, T., Kaasalainen, S., Lawrence, J., Hunter, P. V., Bourgeois-Guerin, V., & Howard, M. (2021). Using a self-directed workbook to support advance care planning with long term care home residents. BMC Palliative Care, 20(1), 1-12.

Hunter, P. V., Rissling, A., Pickard, L., Thorpe, L., & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2021). Intervention Fidelity of a Volunteer-Led Montessori-Based Intervention in a Canadian Long-Term Care Home. Canadian Journal on Aging/La Revue canadienne du vieillissement. 40(2): 293-305.

Hunter, P.V., Thorpe, L., Hadjistavropoulos, T. & Hounjet, C. (2020). Using Normalization Process Theory to evaluate the implementation of Montessori-based volunteer visits within a Canadian long-term care home. The Gerontologist. 60: 182-192.

Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., Thompson, G., McCleary, L., Hunter, P.V., Venturato, L., Wickson-Griffiths, A., Ploeg, J., Parker, D., Sinclair, S. and Dal Bello-Haas, V. (2020). A pilot evaluation of the Strengthening a Palliative Approach in Long-Term Care (SPA-LTC) program. BMC palliative care. 19(1): 1-12.

Sharon Kaasalainen, Paulette V. Hunter, Vanina Dal Bello-Haas, Lisa Dolovich, Katherine Froggatt, Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Maureen Markle-Reid, Jenny Ploeg, Joyce Simard, Lehana Thabane, Jenny T. van der Steen & Ladislav Volicer. (2020). Evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of the Namaste Care program in long-termcare settings in Canada. Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 6(1): 1-12.

Hunter, P.V., McCleary, L., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Goodridge, D., Hadjistavropoulos, T., Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., Thompson, G., Venturato, L., & Wickson-Griffiths, A. (2020). Mind the gap: Is the Canadian long-term care workforce ready for a palliative care mandate? Ageing & Society. 40: 1223-1243. 

Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., McCleary, L., Thompson, G., Hunter, P.V., Wickson-Griffiths, A., Cook, R., Dal-Bello Haas, V., Hill, C., Venturato, L., Papaioannou, A., You, J., & Parker, D. (2019). Palliative Care Models in Long-Term Care: A Scoping Review. Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership. 32(3): 8-26.

Kaasalainen, S., Hunter, P. V., Hill, C., Moss, R., Kim, J., van der Steen, J. T., ... & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2019). Launching Namaste care in Canada: Findings from training sessions and initial perceptions of an end-of-life program for people with advanced dementia. Journal of Research in Nursing. 24(6): 403-417.

Hunter, P.V, Kaasalainen, S, Froggatt, K.A., Ploeg, J., Dolovich, L., Simard, J., Salsali, M. (2017). Using the ecological framework to identify barriers and enablers to implementing Namaste Care in Canada’s long- term care system. Annals of Palliative Medicine. 6(4): 340-353.

Teaching Responsibilities

  • PSY 120.3 (Biological and Cognitive Bases of Psychology)
  • PSY 121.3 (Social, Clinical, Cultural and Developmental Bases of Psychology)
  • PSY 216.3 (Psychology of Aging)
  • PSY 858.3 (Ethics in Clinical Psychology)

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Member, Canadian Psychological Association Committee on Ethics (2014-)
  • Founding Member, Saskatchewan LTC Network (2020-)
  • Vice President, St. Thomas More College Faculty Union, University of Saskatchewan (2020-)
  • Secretary, St. Thomas More College Faculty Union, University of Saskatchewan (2019-2020)
  • Department Head, Psychology, St. Thomas More College (2018-2019)
  • Research Committee, St. Thomas More College (2014-2017)
  • Member, Clinical Executive Committee, Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan (2011-2019)
  • Corresponding Member, Clinical Executive Committee, Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan (2019-)