Dr. Winnie Sun (RN, PhD) completed her PhD in Nursing and collaborative graduate program in Health Services and Policy Research at the University of Toronto. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ontario Tech University, and she is holding a research appointment as the Co-Research Director for the Regional Centre of Dementia Care and Recovery in Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. As a nurse with clinical expertise in gerontology, Dr. Sun develops a strong passion in educating nursing students about the care of older adults, with emphasis on cognitive impairment within community health, home healthcare and long-term care settings. As a research scientist in gerontology, Dr. Sun possesses a research agenda with a strong focus on the development and utilization of gerontechnology to advance dementia care and to support older adults with the goal of aging in place. Dr. Sun was awarded a Post-Doctoral Fellowship from AGE-WELL (Canada’s Technology and Aging Network ) and she is currently leading the development of virtual reality reminiscence therapy for persons with dementia funded by Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI). Dr. Sun possesses a strong publication record in refereed journals and book chapters in community health, mental health, gerontechnology, geriatric and dementia care, as well as an active and diversified track record of conducting interdisciplinary research in gerontology, including Tri-Council, national and provincial funding from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Canadian Frailty Network, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and CABHI SPARK-ON program.
Development and Evaluation of Virtual Programs for Older Adults and Persons with Dementia to Promote Social Connectedness in Oshawa Community
Winnie Sun, Ontario Tech University; Oshawa Senior Community Centre OSCC55+, Canada
Rabia Akhter, Julie MacIsaac and Teresa Shearer, Ontario Tech University, Oshawa Senior Community Centre OSCC55+, Canada
The purpose of this project (TeachingCity Oshawa initiative) is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Oshawa Senior Community Centres (OSCC55+)’s virtual, online programs in addressing the needs for social connection and interaction for older adults with dementia and their caregivers during COVID-19 pandemic.
A mixed methods research design will be used to examine the lived experiences of persons with dementia (PWD) and their caregivers during COVID-19 physical distancing, and to evaluate the feasibility, satisfaction, and effectiveness of virtual community-based programs by OSCC55+ to promote social connectedness during the COVID-19 pandemic. A mixed methods methodology with quantitative surveys, as well as qualitative methodology using individual in-depth interviews and focus groups will be employed to explore the perspectives of PWD, informal caregivers, and program staffs regarding their experiences of OSCC55+ virtual programs (Adult Day Programs), including program barriers, facilitators and opportunities.
This project will have the impact of advancing TeachingCity Oshawa’s initiatives by providing important insights about the effects of utilizing digital technology, building capacity of volunteer workforce and community partnerships to support social connectedness of older adults with cognitive impairment in the City of Oshawa. Project deliverables will include recommendations regarding: (1) Ways to promote the social engagement of seniors using virtual programming; (2) Strategies to improve access to the delivery of program services for seniors and caregivers in isolation; (3) Recommendations to increase the understanding about opportunities on how city customer service staff and volunteers can better engage, communicate, and deliver services to older adults with cognitive impairments.