Recent News

Recent News

VHA continues to invest in future of home care science through 2021 Research Fellows

September 30, 2021
Collage of our 2021 research fellows

Each year, VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) invests in the future of home care research by supporting graduate student researchers and through clinician focused programs that offer therapists, nurses and personal support workers the opportunity to develop their research skills.

As our current fellows stride ahead with their new research projects this Fall, here is an overview of the exciting work underway in our Fellowship Class of 2021.

Graduate Student Fellowship Program

The Graduate Student Fellowship Program sponsors promising young scientists to diversify research capacity and expertise in the home and community sector. Each year, VHA co-funds up to three graduate students whose work is aligned with the strategic vision of VHA Research: Better Care, Safer Teams and A More Connected System. Our 2021 Graduate Student Fellows are:

2021 Junior Researcher Development Award Winners

2021 Junior Researcher Development Award Winners

  • Julia Goyal is currently pursuing a Joint Interdisciplinary PhD between the School of Public Health Sciences and Department of Mechatronics and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Her doctoral research focuses on building and validating data-driven models through a mixed-method design to classify, predict and better understand stress in caregiving work. Findings will help develop recommendations for point-of-care and management-level team members and inform workplace practice to promote sustainable and healthy work for personal support workers. Understanding stress will make an important difference in care work, as the health and well-being of personal support workers, in turn, shapes the quality of care provided to clients at home. Julia’s VHA research priority is Safer Teams.
  • Sarah Carbone is a PhD candidate in Health Services Research at the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include shared decision-making, aging in place and patient and family health care experiences. Sarah’s current research explores the decision-making of older adults who considered leaving, or left, long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This work will include the perspectives of older long-term care residents, caregivers, and care providers and offer important insight towards the long-term care to home care transition process, and the facilitators and barriers of this type of transition. Her VHA research priority is A More Connected System.
  • Sheila Addanki is a PhD candidate in the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University. Her PhD research will examine the implementation and impact of the Beyond Silence App, a new evidence-based mental health app designed to provide customized information for workers in healthcare. This real-world implementation study will provide key insights to generate recommendations for optimizing the use of mobile health apps to address the complex and evolving mental health needs of point-of-care workers in health care. Her VHA research priority is Safer Teams.

Champions of Change Interprofessional Fellowship

Designed and run by the Research & Innovation and the Quality, Best Practice & Education teams at VHA, the Champions of Change program provides current point-of-care nursing and personal support workers an opportunity to work together to design and lead a quality improvement project related to VHA’s strategic priorities. Through developing, implementing, and evaluating a quality improvement initiative, fellows will drive positive change within their clinical teams. This year, their project will focus on how the use of technology can support VHA clients and families living with dementia to manage their medications. Our 2021 Champions of Change fellows are:

Winners of our 2021 Champions of Change Fellowship Award

Winners of our 2021 Champions of Change Fellowship Award

  • Hani Al-Shbat is an internationally trained physician who has been working as a Personal Support Worker for the past two years. He takes great pride in his work. “I have realized that helping people in their daily life is very joyful,” says Hani. For his Champions of Change Fellowship project, Hani is looking forward to using technology to help patients with dementia remember to take their medications.
  • Sangeeta Maharjan is a Visiting Registered Nurse with VHA Home HealthCare. As a Client Choice Award winner in 2020, Sangeeta has a resounding work ethic that focuses on providing the highest quality care for her clients. “I believe medication management is crucial in client’s recovery and overall health maintenance. I am taking part in the Champions of Change Interprofessional Fellowship program as a new learning opportunity,” says Sangeeta. She is looking forward to designing and implementing a quality improvement initiative related to improving medication safety.
  • Donnabelle Labasan has been working as a Personal Support Worker at VHA Home HealthCare since 2017. With a background in nursing before moving to Canada, Donnabelle has many skills she has learned to help VHA’s clients. She takes pride in continuously learning how to improve the care she provides for her clients. “I believe that if you’re open to new ideas, willing to embrace change, and think critically, you can do better in providing quality care. I’m excited to work on this project and looking forward to sharing it with my team,” says Donnabelle.

VHA-UHN Collaborative Academic Practice Fellowship

The VHA-UHN Collaborative Academic Practice Fellowship was created through a partnership between VHA Research and the UHN Collaborative Academic Practice Department (CAP). This program was the first of its kind in the world and has a long history of supporting point-of-care providers to engage in successful quality improvement work. The CAP Program at UHN provides unique opportunities for health care professionals at the point-of-care to improve quality of client care by leading a quality improvement project, related to the organization’s strategic priorities, and to engage in ongoing dialogue and learning about leadership and spearheading positive change. VHA is excited to partner with UHN to bring this exceptional program to our point of care staff to realize similar benefits. Our VHA-UHN Collaborative Academic Practice fellow is:

  • 2021 VHA-UHN Research Fellow, Michael Murray

    2021 VHA-UHN Research Fellow, Michael Murray

    Michael Murray graduated as an Occupational Therapist in 2010 from Trinity college in Dublin, Ireland. Michael brings a distinct perspective to his work with his experience internationally in Ireland, Singapore, and Canada. Michael has over 10 years of experience in both hospital and community care settings, ranging from paediatric to older adult populations. Michael joined VHA in 2018 working on the Toronto Central paediatric team. More recently Michael has been working with adults and is involved in an integrated palliative care team. Michael has a passion for health equity and working with marginalized communities to support the social determinants of health. His areas of interest are quality improvement, accessible service development, and integration of our complex community health services. Michael is currently completing his Master of Health Administration (Community Care) at Ryerson University. During his time working in the community Michael has identified key areas for improvement for our vulnerable clients. As a VHA research fellow, Michael plans to implement a quality improvement project to support VHA staff in accessing appropriate resources for 2SLGBTQI+ clients. Engaging clients, caregivers, and staff with a goal of making VHA a safer and more accountable space for these clients and to optimize health outcomes and client satisfaction.

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Health System Impact Fellowship

The CIHR Health System Impact Fellowship program provides highly qualified doctoral trainees studying health services a unique opportunity to apply their research and analytic talents to critical challenges in health organizations outside of the traditional scholarly setting and to develop professional experience, new skills, and professional networks. It aims to connect fellows to organizations from across the health care system who have shared impact projects that bridge the knowledge-to-practice gap where they gain experience in a real-world setting. Our 2021 CIHR Health System Impact fellow is:

  • Marianne Saragosa, 2021 Health Systems Impact Fellow

    Marianne Saragosa, 2021 Health Systems Impact Fellow

    Marianne Saragosa is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto in the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. She received a Health System Impact Fellowship from the Canadian Institute of Health Research to study with VHA for the 2021-2022 academic year to examine care transitions among home care clients. “Home care clients tend to be an understudied population, and yet, many require complex care and support while in their home environments,” she says. “Through my PhD work and connecting with VHA for support with recruitment, I became more aware of VHA as an organization and saw how my research was aligned with VHA’s strategic vision of connected systems,” shares Marianne. “By engaging home care clients with prior care transition experiences and their care partners and providers, we want to better understand preceding factors to these movements between settings and potential solutions to avoid or reduce transitions.”