Picture of  Paulette Hunter

Paulette Hunter Associate Professor

STM 336

Research Area(s)

  • Personhood, relationship, and social inclusion in dementia and disability
  • Relationships and trust among patients, family caregivers, staff, and organizational partners in healthcare
  • Strengthening a palliative approach in long-term care
  • Quality of life 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

Strengthening a Palliative Approach in Long-term Care

Today, people live longer with a variety of chronic health conditions. 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. Although these are all elements of “palliative care”, they need not be limited to those who are near the end of life. To acknowledge that these needs can be addressed earlier, we now speak of “a palliative approach to care”. This is a way of thinking about how the original principles of palliative care can be expanded by healthcare employees, volunteers, and families in a range of settings, such as homes, clinics, hospitals, and long-term care settings, and need not be limited to hospice care.

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

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

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 that are on healthcare employees’ minds – burnout, communication, teamwork, and leadership – and contains some of the keys to helping healthcare employees thrive under adverse conditions.

To access the toolkit: https://appliedinterprofessionalresearch.com/downloads/

Funding partners: Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and Emmanuel Health

Scoping Design Innovations in Long-Term Care

Environmental design informs how disabilities are supported, how care work is organized, and how homelike a long-term care setting feels. This project scopes international literature on the range of structural design innovations for building and renovating long-term care homes, seeking to identify the outcomes associated with these innovations, and what contributes to achieving these outcomes.

Student Lead: Elizabeth Pywell

A Relationship-Centred Practice Model for Long-Term Care

Despite decades of pressure for more person-centred models of care in long-term care (LTC), the Canadian public continues to lack trust in the LTC system. This trust was further eroded by restrictions on resident and family contact during the COVID-19 pandemic. To restore trust, a relationship-centred approach to practice is essential. Yet, current guidance on relationship-centred practice in LTC is mainly aspirational rather than concrete. To promote rapid and widespread change, this project, planned in partnership with Saskatchewan Health Authority, emphasizes the collaborative co-design of a relationship-centered practice model by SHA LTC residents, family caregivers, and employees. This model will focus on addressing “hotspots” or focal points of relational ruptures, emphasizing concrete, feasible, high-impact practices to support strong relationships in LTC. This work both complements and contributes to ongoing work across Saskatchewan to build stronger, relationship-centred models of long-term care delivery.

Student lead: Ivy Myge

Organizational partners: Saskatchewan Health Authority – Patient & Client Experience; Saskatchewan Health Authority – Continuing Care

Funding partners: Pending

Getting Results for Long-Term Care Residents: Perspectives from Saskatchewan Healthcare

Saskatchewan’s non-profit long-term care providers have faced a number of challenges in the last decade, including increased acuity of care, healthcare reorganization, and a pandemic. Using 1:1 interviews as a primary method, this project explores 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.

Student leads: Jyllenna Landry, Yash Tendulkar

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

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, we encourage you to 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

Our thanks to the student researchers and to these funding partners: Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation

Selected Publications and Presentations

Hunter, P.V., Ward, H., & Puurveen, G. (under review). 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.

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

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

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. (2019). Mind the gap: Is the Canadian long-term care workforce ready for a palliative care mandate?. Ageing & Society. 1: 1-21.

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-)