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Sharon Kaasalainen is the inaugural Gladys Sharpe Chair in Nursing

Aug 11, 2020

Sharon Kaasalainen

Photograph above: Sharon Kaasalainen

Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen, a professor in the School of Nursing, has been named the inaugural Gladys Sharpe Chair in Nursing at McMaster University. The five-year appointment was effective July 1, 2020.

The chair is named in honour of the late Gladys Sharpe, who was hired by McMaster University in 1946 to lay down the foundation for a nursing education program. In 1948, the School of Nursing was accredited by the Nurses Registration Act of Ontario. Having reached this milestone, Sharpe resigned as director in 1949.

“As the inaugural chair, I hope to continue to build on the foundation that Gladys has set for us,” says Kaaslainen.

Dr. Sandra Carroll, vice-dean, Faculty of Health Sciences and executive director, School of Nursing, describes Kaasalainen as “an international leader in research in dementia in long-term care communities.”

Over the next five years, Kaasalainen plans to continue her research program and knowledge translation in the area of improving the quality of living and dying in long term care (LTC) homes. “Specifically, I plan to create a website to house our research and products and create and expand a national LTC Community of Practice through which to foster interdisciplinary engagement, build capacity across jurisdictions, and share knowledge and resources for implementing a palliative approach in LTC. Also, I will be working with partnering organizations to develop and refine staff education modules, tailored to meet the needs of LTC staff, which has become even more pressing given COVID-19,” she says.

“Despite the high mortality rates in LTC, most homes do not implement a palliative approach to care. The main thrust of my current research program involves evaluating two different programs: the Strengthening a Palliative Approach in LTC (SPA-LTC) and Namaste Care. SPA-LTC includes capacity building activities for staff, and also, engaging and supporting residents and their families early through advance care planning and later in the trajectory so families feel prepared to make critical and sometimes difficult decisions at end of life. The Namaste Care program focuses specifically on residents who have advanced dementia, and aims to improve the quality of life for these residents who are nearing the end of their life and are often excluded from other programing and supports,” says Kaasalainen.

The Gladys Sharpe Chair in Nursing is funded by the Faculty of Health Sciences under the leadership of Paul O’Byrne, dean and vice-president.

LINK to Faculty of Health Sciences announcement: Faculty of Health Sciences website


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