A palliative approach to care is a group effort



Sharon Kaasalainen


Sharon is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and an associate member of the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster in Hamilton, Ontario. She is also an Honorary Professor at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Health Sciences from McMaster University, and a Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Toronto. Her top three research interests are pain management and palliative care in long-term care; improving the quality of life for older adults living in long-term care; and advanced practice nursing roles in long-term care.

Lynn Mccleary


Lynn is a mental health and gerontological nurse. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario. She is also the former Past President of the Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association. Her top three research interests focus on dementia services, transitions in dementia care and dementia caregiving.


Tamara Sussman


Tamara is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees at McGill University, and a PhD in Social Work at the University of Toronto, followed by a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program at the University of Waterloo.  Her top three research interests focus on how health services and systems impact older adults and their family members, including spousal careers’ experiences with home care; older adults’ and family members’ experiences with the transition into long-term care; and barriers and facilitators to the delivery of effective interventions for depressed older adults and their care partners.


Paulette Hunter

Ph.D., R.D. Psych.

Paulette is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Health Studies at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan. Her research interests emphasize people-centred care, palliative approaches to long-term care, and family care in long-term care. She teaches on the topics of psychology, aging, and applied ethics. She has previously worked as a clinical psychologist in long-term care and rehabilitation contexts.

Abigail Wickson-Griffiths


Abigail is an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Regina and is also the Aging Studies graduate program co-coordinator. She holds degrees from Toronto Metropolitan University in Toronto and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Her primary research interests are palliative and end-of-life care, dementia care, long-term care and advance practice nursing.


Genevieve Thompson


Genevieve is a Professor in the College of Nursing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. She holds a research chair in Person-Directed Living supported through Riverview Health Centre and the College of Nursing. Her research aims to make a positive change and to improve care within long-term care by focusing on the delivery of high quality, respectful and compassionate care for those living and dying in this setting along with those that visit and work in this care setting. 


Lorraine Venturato


Lorraine is an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, and holds the Faculty of Nursing Research Chair in Gerontology. She also co-leads the Hotchkiss Brain Institute’s Dementia and Cognitive Impairment Neuro-Team. Dr Venturato’s work focuses on understanding quality of care and quality of life for older people – particularly older people living with dementia – and emphasizes partnerships between practice, research and education.


Pamela Durepos


Pamela Durepos, RN, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of New Brunswick. Dr Durepos is an Early Career Investigator and her program of research focuses on enhancing care and access to a palliative approach for persons living with dementia and their care partners. Prior to becoming a researcher, she worked as a critical care nurse for Hamilton Health Sciences (Hamilton General Hospital) in the Neurotrauma Intensive Care Unit for 16 years. Dr Durepos completed graduate studies at McMaster University and has been involved with SPA-LTC for the past 9 years. Dr Durepos is currently leading a province-wide project in New Brunswick to support the scale-up of SPA-LTC with long-term care homes. She also enjoys collaborating with the Alzheimer Society and is investigating a new Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Tele-counselling program for care partners of people living with dementia. Pam lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick with her family and dog. 

Caroline Gibbons


Caroline is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Moncton.  Dr Gibbons is currently leading the francophone aspect of a province-wide project in New Brunswick to support the scale-up of SPA-LTC in long-term care homes. Her research interests are related to pedagogy in a baccalaureate nursing program, including educational interventions such as interprofessional collaborative simulated education and journal clubs; NCLEX-RN preparation; and safe medication administration in clinical settings. She’s also interested in health-related educational interventions conducted out of the university setting, such as palliative, end-of-life, and long-term care.


Elisabeth Antifeau

Education Consultant

Elisabeth graduated from VGH School of Nursing in 1979, and her professional credentials include a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (UVic, 1986), Masters of Science in Nursing (UBC, 1997) and two national specialty certifications in Gerontological Nursing and Hospice Palliative Care Nursing. Over her long nursing career as a Registered Nurse, she has worked in front-line clinical, education and management positions across all adult care settings. 
Elisabeth currently works as the Regional Clinical Nurse Specialist for Palliative Care and End of Life Services in Interior Health in British Columbia.  She is keenly interested in clinical and ethical issues related to the choices of individuals and families who are living with advancing life-limiting illness in rural and remote settings.  Her clinical practice focuses on embedding a palliative approach into care by focusing on easing many forms of suffering and by exploring creative and collaborative options and choices to improve quality of life so individuals and their families live well with whatever time remains.

Lesley Hirst

RN, BScN (Hons), MNNP, MSc
Nova Scotia Palliative Consultant

Lesley is originally from the UK, born in the county of Yorkshire where her love for nature, animals and Leeds United Football club started. Following a very successful career in the UK’s NHS, Lesley left her position of Senior Sister of the Northern Oesophageal-gastric Cancer Centre and moved to Canada 20 years ago.  Clinically Lesley specialized in Oncology, Palliative care and Leadership in the UK and applied her international experience to shaping the Ontario and Canadian system. She holds Master of Nursing Nurse Practitioner and Master of Science degrees.
With over 34 years in healthcare Lesley has transformed health and social sectors in many roles, most recently with Ontario Health as Director in Health Equity and Priority populations for IPAC, Palliative Care and Paramedicine, she has also been the Regional Director for the HNHB Palliative Care Network, Executive Director at Carpenter Hospice and Chief of Nursing Practice Hamilton Health Sciences. Lesley has also pioneered palliative care work across the Country including starting the Palliative Care Nurses Interest Group of Ontario in 2009, co-author of CHPCA revised model to guide palliative care 2013 and OPCN Competency Framework 2018. She was instrumental in leading the co-design of the do not resuscitate confirmation form for paramedics and was the co-lead of the 911 palliative new model of care for paramedics in the HNHB/WW regions. Lesley has and continues to advise and work with multiple groups and Ministries to advance Nursing Practice, Palliative Care and Community Paramedicine in Ontario and Canada. She is the Vice Chair for CARE4Nurses and continues to advocate for the continuing evolution of nursing roles in Canada.

Lisa Bailey

RN, MSc Palliative Medicine, CHPCN(C) 
Alberta Palliative Consultant

Lisa Bailey has been a registered nurse for 30 years. Much of her career has been devoted to palliative care. Lisa holds a Hospice Palliative Care post-diploma certificate from MacEwan University, a Master of Science degree in Palliative Medicine from Cardiff University and is Nationally certified in Hospice Palliative Care nursing.  
Lisa has a breadth of palliative care and end-of-life care knowledge and clinical experience. She has worked as a staff nurse on a palliative care and oncology unit, as a hospice nurse with patients across the lifespan, a hospice educator, and a long-term care pain and palliative nurse consultant.  
Lisa is an innovator and passionate about high-quality palliative care. She led a long-term care quality improvement project that improved pain assessments and pain management for residents with dementia living in Carewest Colonel Belcher. Her master’s dissertation focused primarily on family perceptions of palliative care in long-term care. Understanding family perceptions of palliative care in long-term care allowed for themes of high-quality palliative care to be extracted from the literature. Lisa’s work supports the SPA-LTC approach to palliative care and the tools that contribute to high-quality palliative care in long-term care. 
Lisa has extensively used the SPA-LTC resources in her practice and is excited to be a part of the SPA- LTC team.

Clara Dyck

British Columbia Palliative Consultant

Clara is the Education and Resource Leader at North Okanagan Hospice Society in Vernon, B.C.. She is research partner with Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen and McMaster University in the Strengthening A Palliative Approach in Long Term Care and Associate Member of the Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Preventions, University of British Columbia. She uses her expertise and knowledge of death and dying to support people along the care continuum from diagnosis of a life limiting illness to bereavement, at all the healthcare touch points. Her breadth of knowledge of end-of-life care ranges from whole person symptom management, Advanced Care Planning to care of the dying in a culturally sensitive trauma-informed manner. 

Lisa Matthews

British Columbia Palliative Consultant

Lisa Matthews is the Executive Director of North Okanagan Hospice Society in Vernon BC. She is a forward focused healthcare executive with over 30 years of experience in health care service delivery and health system development. She has held faculty positions in nursing in Okanagan College and University of Cardiff, Wales. Much of her professional experience has been in improving patient safety outcomes through embedding quality processes into front line service delivery, through nursing and allied health education and utilizing quality improvement methodology. She has worked within 4 continents and draws on her unique experiences working in different cultures and systems, to improve the lives of the communities she works with, in a sustainable, culturally safe manner.

Mary-Anne Parker

Saskatchewan Palliative Consultant

Mary-Anne Parker is an End-of-Life researcher, instructor, practicing End-of-Life Doula, and Administrator for the Saskatchewan Hospice Palliative Care Association.  Her research has examined end of life care practices in Canada, the evolution and praxis of the Death Doula role, and how modern society understands end of life care.  Her studies are now informed by family caregiving, and she is a passionate advocate for timely and quality access to palliative care. Before immersing herself in end-of-life care advocacy, she has enjoyed careers in marketing communications, adult education, and as a working artist. 


Sally Shaw


Sally is a Program Manager for Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen at McMaster University. Sally has her Master’s degree in Molecular Biology from Queen’s University, a postgraduate certificate in Clinical Research from Humber College and spent 10 years managing an oncology program at Mount Sinai/Princess Margaret in Toronto. She also spent 5 years on the Research Ethics Board at Mount Sinai Hospital. Sally is excited to support clinical trials, research grants, contracts and ethics with the SPA-LTC team and has an interest in palliative care and symptom management.

Jordan Browne

BSc, MSc

Jordan is a Research Coordinator for Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen at McMaster University. 
Jordan has a Master’s degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics from Queen’s University Belfast, a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science and spent the last 5 years coordinating multiple nephrology studies and a nationwide covid study at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. 
Jordan is excited to provide support and expertise in REDCap and data analysis skills with the SPA-LTC team and has an interest in palliative care and how we can improve long term care for future generations.

Elizabeth Wojtowicz


Elizabeth is a primary health care nurse practitioner with 20 years’ experience, focusing on care of the elderly. Her research interests include implementing a palliative approach to care in long-term care homes, person-centred care and quality of life for persons living with dementia, and nurse practitioner models of care in long-term care homes. She works as a research coordinator for the SPA-LTC program.

Sandra Mailing


Sandra Is a retired  Psychiatric Nurse and Mental Health Case manager with 35 years experience , focusing on QOL for persons living with mental health concerns across all age groups in the community. A brief contract in research for womens health concerns , sparked a love for research  Later in her career Sandra joined the team at St Josephs Lifecare working collaboratively  with  psychogeriatric team and Behavioural Supports Ontario . Sandra is currently working as a research coordinator for the SPA-LTC program.

Kirstian Gibson


Kirstian Gibson is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Research Coordinator for the Saskatchewan SPA-LTC team. Kirstian has a PhD in Applied Social Psychology (USask), a Master’s degree in Applied Social Psychology (USask), a bachelors in Psychology (UNB), and a bachelors in Kinesiology (UNB). Her research interests include understanding and improving the quality-of-life of persons living with dementia who reside in the community and in long-term care and their family care partners. She is also interested in the implementation of palliative care in the long-term care setting.


Marie-Lee Yous

Postdoctoral Fellow

Marie-Lee Yous is a Postdoctoral Fellow supervised by Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen and an Instructor in the School of Nursing at McMaster University. Her research journey is inspired by her many years of experience as a Registered Nurse supporting persons living with dementia and their families on a Long-Term Care unit. She is passionate about pursuing research on Namaste Care to meaningfully engage persons living with dementia and family and friend caregivers. She has research interests in co-creating and implementing caregiver interventions for persons living with dementia, non-pharmacological approaches to support persons experiencing responsive behaviors, and dementia education to support healthcare providers.

Donny Li

Research Assistant

Donny is a Research Assistant with Dr. Kaasalainen at McMaster University. He is currently studying in the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) program at McMaster University and is involved with research in palliative and supportive care at William Osler Health System. His research interests include the implementation of palliative care across cultures, critical care, and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

Stephanie Lucchese 

RN, MN, PhD student 

Stephanie Lucchese is a Research Assistant for Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen at McMaster University. Stephanie is a Registered Nurse and has a Canadian Nurses Association certification in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. She has a Masters in Nursing from Ryerson University and is a PhD student at McMaster’s School of Nursing Program. Stephanie’s research interests include: mental health, aging and immigrant health.

Jennifer Harris  

RN, MEd, PhD student 

Jennifer Harris is a Research Assistant for Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen at McMaster University. Jennifer is a Registered Nurse and has a Canadian Nurses Association certification in Hospice Palliative Care. She has a Masters in Education from Wilfrid Laurier University and is a PhD student at McMaster’s School of Nursing Program. Jennifer’s research interests include: palliative care and leadership in LTC, nursing education

Grace Goodale  

Research Assistant

Grace is a Research Assistant with Dr. Kaasalainen at McMaster University. She is currently studying in the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) program at McMaster University. Her research interests include community-based and participatory action research that ultimately provides more holistic, patient-centered palliative care.

Natalie Abdelmseeh 

Research Assistant

Natalie is a Research Assistant with Dr. Kaasalainen at McMaster University. She is currently studying in the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) program at McMaster University. Her research interests include oncology, immunology, chronic illness, and social determinants of health. She has an interdisciplinary viewpoint on health and is very passionate about making a difference for the network of patients, families, and staff in the LTC system through palliative care research as an undergraduate.

Katherine (Katie) Ottley  

Graduate Research Assistant

Katherine (Katie) Ottley is a Psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Saskatchewan. Katie completed a Master’s degree in psychology (Laurier) and an undergraduate honours degree (U of R) in psychology. Her research interests are focused on the family caregiving experience, including an interest in how family caregivers make decisions for persons who cannot make their own decisions due to cognitive impairment. Katie is also interested in a palliative approach to care for serious illness because of its focus on whole-person care.

Kelsey Haczkewicz  

Graduate Research Assistant

Kelsey Haczkewicz is a student in the Clinical Psychology Master’s program at the University of Regina. Kelsey completed her undergraduate honours degree in psychology at the U of R. Her research interests focus on aging
and long-term care and she aims to improve the experiences of both residents and informal caregivers in long term care facilities through research.

Jyllenna Landry  

Graduate Research Assistant

Jyllenna Landry is a first-year graduate student in clinical psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. She completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Neuroscience and Mental Health and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Carleton University. She is passionate about developing creative community-based approaches to mental health intervention and support.

Mandana Nezhad Bagheri  

Graduate Research Assistant

Mandana Nezhad Bagheri is a Master of Public Health Student at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Mandana received her bachelor’s degree from the Ahvaz Jondishapoor University of Medical Sciences while living in her home country of Iran and has worked for approximately 8 years in different healthcare areas. Mandana will be working on the SPA-LTC project as a research assistant during her practicum. Mandana is interested in studying long-term care and is passionate about improving the quality of life for older adults and disabled people by implementing a palliative care approach in long-term care homes.

Wilson L

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Wilson Li is a Research Assistant with Dr. Hunter at the St. Thomas More College of the University of Saskatchewan. He received his bachelor’s of science degree in Biomedical Neuroscience at the University of Saskatchewan in 2023. His research interests include understanding and optimizing delivery of long-term care approaches, mental health, and cognitive neuroscience.

Joseph Landry

Research Assistant

Joseph Landry graduated the Algonquin College Practical Nursing program in 2019 and has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse in multiple health disciplines across Canada. Through working in Long-Term-Care and providing at home End Of Life care, Joseph developed a passion for the palliative care approach and integrates it in his practice by advocating for holistic centered care. 

Wisdom Atulaegwu

Research Assistant

Wisdom Atulaegwu is an undergraduate research assistant working with Dr. Abigail Wickson-Griffiths at the University of Regina. He is currently a nursing student with the University of Regina, and has a Doctor of Optometry degree from his home country. His interest is in integrating and strengthening a palliative approach to care across populations as a component of holistic care.

Mariam Abdelmalek

Research Assistant

Mariam is a Research Assistant with Dr. Kaasalainen at McMaster University. She is currently studying in the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) program at McMaster University. Bilingual in English and French, Mariam is dedicated to researching palliative care implementation across cultures as well as understanding social and linguistic determinants of health. Her aim is to advance inclusive healthcare practices for Canadians.

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