A palliative approach to care is a group effort



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 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 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 at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan. She works half-time as a psychologist at Parkridge Centre, a large long-term care home in Saskatoon. Her research interests emphasize person-centred and palliative approaches to dementia care in Canada’s long-term care system. She teaches on the topics of psychology, aging, and applied ethics.

Abigail is working with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Regina and is also the Gerontology Program Coordinator. She holds degrees from Ryerson University in Toronto and from McMaster University in Hamilton. Her fellowship work evaluated the Palliative Performance Scale use in the long-term care home setting. Her primary research interests are palliative and end-of-life care, dementia care, long-term care and advance practice nursing.


Genevieve is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. She holds research affiliations with the Centre on Aging at the University of Manitoba, and with Riverview Health Centre. Her program of research focuses on personhood, dignity, and quality care for older adults living and dying in long-term care (LTC). Her studies have systematically explored issues related to dignity, distress, palliative approaches to end-of-life care, or quality care for older adults living within the LTC environments.


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.


Sally (Burtenshaw) 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 the last 10 years managing an oncology program at Mount Sinai/Princess Margaret in Toronto. Sally 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.

Julia kruizinga

BNSc, RN, MScN Candidate

Julia is a Research Assistant with Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen at McMaster University. She completed her BNSc at Queen’s University in 2020 and is an MScN candidate at McMaster University’s School of Nursing, where Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen is her supervisor. She proudly works as a registered nurse in hospice and palliative care nursing. Her research interests include early integration of palliative care, quality end-of-life outcomes, and access to palliative care.


Shirin Vellani

Postdoctoral Fellow

Shirin Vellani is a Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen at Mc Master University. She is a Nurse Practitioner by training, who has experience working in a variety of specialized geriatric services. She earned her PhD in Nursing Science at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto with a collaborative specialization in Aging, Palliative and Supportive Care Across the Life Course, in 2021. Her research focused on engaging older adults with early stage dementia and their care partners in advance care planning utilising a virtual platform. She is also interested in implementing an integrated palliative approach in dementia care across the disease trajectory. As well, in exploring interdisciplinary models of care that include nurse practitioners; and common data elements to optimize the care for older adults in long-term care sector.


Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours)

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.

Vanessa Maradiaga Rivas 

BScN, RN, MSc Student 

Vanessa is a Research Assistant with Dr. Kaasalainen at McMaster University. She completed her BScN at McMaster University in 2017 and is a MSc Student at McMaster University’s School of Nursing, where Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen is her supervisor. She has experience working as a Registered Nurse in Acute medicine and Long-Term Care (LTC). Her research interests include the involvement of education in improving the quality of life for those in the LTC/hospital setting. She is also interested in the early implementation of palliative and end-of-life care discussions and the integration of debriefing/supportive sessions among health care professionals.


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.

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