Proposed aging health research centre seeking approval from TRU senate

New TRU research centre?

A new research centre that aims to find ways to improve the health of older adults living in rural areas will be proposed at Thompson Rivers University and could be the only one of its kind in the region.

According to a proposal for a Population Health and Aging Rural Research Centre that will go in front of TRU's senate next week, older adults in rural areas have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer-related mortality and dementia.

The proposal says “urgent action is needed” to improve the health equity of older adults living in rural communities.

The objectives of the centre would be to conduct population health research to improve the quality of life of rural older adults, foster partnerships, education and training opportunities and develop knowledge “translation and exchange strategies” to enhance the health equity of rural older adults.

“This centre will be unique in Canada and will host intergenerational programs and foster interdisciplinary research where rural older adults will guide the research questions, priorities, and knowledge translation and exchange strategies,” the proposal reads.

The research centre would be headed up by Dr. Juanita-Dawne Bacsu, an assistant professor in the university’s school of nursing and a Canadian Research Chair in nursing and population health.

The school of nursing would be the centre’s lead faculty, with other researchers coming from the faculty of education and social work, arts and science.

The research centre’s proposed budget is just over $128,000, nearly $89,000 of which has already been secured. The centre has secured more than $743,000 in total funding from various internal and external sources.

Secured funding include $600,000 from Bascu’s CRC in nursing and population health.

The proposal said Bascu is working to secure a physical location to operate the research centre out of.

The centre would host events to showcase the work of the centre, create a newsletter, podcast series, seminar series, an annual symposium and create internship opportunities for TRU students and develop an interdisciplinary course on population health.

The proposal includes letters of support from TRU Dean of Nursing Rani Srivastava, the Alzheimer Society of BC, Interior Health, several doctors from local clinics and hospitals, the Enderby and District Community Resource Centre, Chase Creekside Seniors Centre and the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging at Western University.

“Currently, there are no comparable rural aging research centres using a population health approach at TRU or within the Interior region of British Columbia,” the proposal states.

“Although the University of Victoria has the Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, this unit focuses on improving the health and quality of life of individuals of all age groups and it does not include a rural health focus.”

Bascu will be seeking approval from TRU senate to approve the centre. If given the go-ahead from senate, the proposal will then go before the university’s board of governors for final approval.

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