Collaborative group projects co-supervised:

MSc research team:Jillian McGivern, Kyle Dwyer, Jodie Lawlor, Emma Pagotto, Marie-Claire Flores-Pajot

Research Project: Harvesting health: investigating the therapeutic effects of gardens.

Co-supervised with Dr. Irena Knezevic (School of Journalism and Communications) and Dr. Edana Cassol (Health Sciences).

Abstract: The purpose of this project was to identify both the health benefits associated with gardens, particularly gardens in institutional or organizational settings, and methods for assessing the various outcomes. Whether found within a home, community, or healthcare setting, gardens vary in purpose to suit any number of specific or general needs, such as assisting healing, providing greater food access to a community, or simply existing as a social space where individuals come together to share a common interest; they serve beneficial purposes in a variety of ways and circumstances. Research on the ways in which garden settings contribute to positive health outcomes aligns with the growing attention paid to health environments as a key component of health promotion. The literature indicates that although substantial evidence exists regarding the health outcomes associated with gardens, there is a limited amount of empirical research providing concrete support for the benefits of gardens in health settings, specifically. This study investigated gardens’ therapeutic effects and their related evaluation methods, including the needs for and barriers to evaluation. We conducted an environmental scan of health-related gardens, a literature review (on the topics of health, nutrition, education, and economics, as each related to gardens and similar activities such as farm-to-fork programs, sensory gardens, or yard work) and eight interviews with key institutions and organizations that have gardens intended for health benefits. We also developed a database with relevant tools that can be used to assess the health outcomes associated with gardens (including physical, mental, social and nutrition benefits). A manuscript of this research is currently in preparation

MSc research team: Lisa Carroll, Jessca Chippior, Shazya Karmali, Deepika Sriram.

Research Topic: Informal caregiver experiences and their use of support services in rural Ontario.

Co-supervised with Dr. Renate Ysseldyk (Department of Health Sciences).

Abstract: Informal caregiving for an aging parent, disabled adult child, or a friend with a chronic illness has unique challenges in rural communities. To address some of these challenges, we collaborated with the Almonte General Hospital, the Mills Community Support and the Hub Hospice Palliative Care. Using focus groups and an online survey, we explored the social factors and practical needs that affect the lives of informal caregivers in and around Almonte, Ontario. Our participants highlighted their commitment to their community, their need for accessible caregiving resources, and the impact of informal caregiving on their physical and psychological health, finances, and social identity. To translate our research into a tangible tool for informal caregivers, we designed a comprehensive listing of caregiving resources available in the Almonte area. This research has been submitted for presentation at a national gerontology conference and a manuscript is in preparation for publication.

MSc research team: Rima Kandar, Kathryn Crabbe, Owen McMorris, Elena Milicevic.

Research Topic: There’s no place like Fairview: the relationship between the social identity of staff/volunteers and the social engagement of residents.

Co-supervised with Dr. Renate Ysseldyk (Health Sciences).

Abstract: When seniors make the transition to a long-term care (LTC) facility, they must adapt to new people, activities, schedules, and environments. In such circumstances, those who often have a primary impact on seniors’ well-being are LTC staff and volunteers. In order to consider potential relationships between the social engagement of residents, the well-being of staff and volunteers, and the role of the built environment itself, we partnered with the Almonte General Hospital and its complex chronic care facility, Fairview Manor. We observed that staff and volunteers’ self-conceptions were firmly grounded in their commitment to the residents, and to Fairview Manor as an organization. Indeed, a common sentiment described Fairview Manor as a circle of care that creates a home-like environment rather than a LTC facility, positively influencing the well-being of residents and staff alike.

MSc research team: Millesha Charles, Michael Elliott, Anne Middleton, Jordan Miller, Kelsey Scharf.

Research Topic: Motivation and food choices of young active adults after physical activity.

Co-supervised with Dr. Kim Matheson (Neuroscience).

Abstract: Our project assessed the influence of physical activity on the post-exercise food choices of young active adults. We collaborated with the Health Promotion team of Ottawa Public Health. We collected data, from Carleton University students aged 17 to 29, on the type, frequency, and intensity of physical activity and its context (social versus non-social). We also collected data on the participants’ food choices after physical activity and classified them as healthy, neutral, or unhealthy based on Canada’s Food Guide. Our results suggest that participation in physical activity is associated with healthy and neutral food choices, but does not decrease the incidence of unhealthy choices. These observations illustrate the need for effective instructional messages, targeting specific audiences, to promote healthy nutrition.