Martine Lagacé is a full professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa, also affiliated with the School of Psychology. Her research revolves around ageism, its sources, manifestations and impact. She has conducted several studies among health caregivers, senior patients and older workers to better understand implicit and explicit ageism, namely through interpersonal communication. She has also published numerous papers and books on the the topic of ageims.
Seniors transitioning from home to hospital to assisting living center: does caregiver–patient communication facilitate or hinder the process?
Many older adults will have a life event that will lead to a transition from their home to an assisted living center. Communication between health care providers and the older adult during these transitions is critical to the well-being and capacity to adapt to the new care center. The goal of this longitudinal study is to understand, from the senior’s perspective, the extent to which interpersonal communication in the context of care transitions facilitates or hinders the process and in turn, impacts well-being. Fifteen older adults were informed in the hospital that they would be transitioning to a care center and not returning home. They all consented to be interviewed about the communication that occurred before and after their transitions. Each participant was interviewed three times: (1) in hospital immediately after being informed that they will be transitioning, (2) in their new residence immediately after arrival, and (3) one month after having lived in their new residence, for a total of 45 interviews. Hence, the study followed the same people over time and repeatedly measured their perceptions based on face-to face interviews. At each stage, the participants were asked how their transition to a new care center was communicated to them, by whom and in what context. More importantly, seniors were asked about their participation in the decisional process, in other words, the extent to which their voice was heard. Thematic content analysis was conducted on the three interviews from each participant exploring the nature and role of interpersonal communication during these transitions in care. Preliminary findings suggest that the senior patient is minimally involved in the decisional process (often not being informed of the details concerning the place where he or she will be living). Moreover, although the patient explicitly agrees with such process, implicitly, feelings of being a burden to the family seem to legitimate it. It follows that well-being and the capacity to adapt to such a transition are negatively impacted once in the new care center. Findings highlight the value of interpersonal communication that is not age biased during transitions. They also inform policy on efficient care transitions that foster well-being. Indeed, actively involving older adults in the decision making process during transitions to a new care center is a first step to counter ageist communication but also to improve adaptation and well-being.