Carleton University’s Chantal Trudel, a professor in the School of Industrial Design and a team made up of Susan Braedley, Amy Hsu, Dennis Kao, Frank Knoefel, Sophie Orosz, Heidi Sveistrup, and Bruce Wallace—received nearly $40,000 from the Foundation for Health Environments Research in the United States to study the design of Canadian long-term care homes (LTC) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The work reflects Carleton’s research commitment to supporting pandemic efforts and strategic initiatives in health, wellness and sustainability.

The funds will be used to design LTC work and living spaces for the protection of residents and staff. Partners include the Bruyère Research Institute and the Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care.

“Unlike hospitals, which are clinical in nature, LTC environments are residents’ homes,” said Trudel. She added this situation presents a challenge in designing for infection prevention and control.

Steve Crawford, chief executive officer of McCormick Care Group in London, Ont., is working with Trudel on design studies. He shares Trudel’s concern. “There’s a potential disconnect between making LTC safe in terms of infection prevention and control, and creating spaces that are comfortable and warm for residents and workers alike.”

Trudel’s previous work in neonatal care showed that aspects of our environments may get in the way of health-care workers trying to complete their tasks safely. There is a critical problem health-care workers are experiencing—a tension between trying to be as cautious as possible, while trying to finish the variety of tasks to serve patients.

The team’s goal is to identify and address these conflicts in LTC to prevent outbreaks, as workers do everyday tasks while wearing cumbersome personal protective equipment.

The team will also study how to assist residents who are living with dementia, which can be particularly challenging, according to team member Frank Knoefel from Bruyère. “It may be hard for someone living with cognitive impairment to remember to wash their hands after coming in contact with high-touch surfaces or to remember physical distancing rules.”

Normally Trudel and her team would visit LTC homes, but due to the pandemic the team will begin the work remotely with at least three LTC workers per facility, at four locations, to capture a range of living and working environments. Trudel’s team will also review the plans of future LTC homes or those under renovation to co-create infection-prevention design strategies.

The initial phase of the study will last a year. The team will create a COVID-friendly design plan for participating LTC homes that could also be used to prevent future respiratory outbreaks.

Media Contact
Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020 in
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