The overall objective of our study is to describe the ideal role that nursing homes (also known as personal care homes in Manitoba), ought to play in our society. The purpose of this study is to inform our understanding of the role and function of nursing homes in the context of our changing health care system in Manitoba. Specifically, we want to address the following questions:

  1. What are the various discourses in public policy and contemporary society that define nursing home care?
  2. What are current public perceptions of nursing homes among Manitobans?
  3. How do different stakeholder groups define the purpose and role of nursing homes in relation to the aging population and the changing health care system?

Phase 1: To address research question 1, we will conduct a discourse analysis of relevant policy and media materials (e.g., aging-in-place strategies; long-term care strategies, media portrayals, mission statements from current nursing home providers) published in the last 10 years, to understand the
broader narratives that frame current discussions about and perceptions of nursing home roles and function.

Phase 2: To address research question 2, we will design and conduct an online survey of current and potential users of nursing homes, to understand their perceptions of nursing homes in contemporary society.

Phase 3: Finally to address our stakeholder groups, we will conduct focus groups and interviews to develop a rich understanding of the tension between nursing home policies aimed at medical care versus a more social perspective. In order to ensure representation of all Manitobans, we plan on holding focus groups with select groups across the province. In cases where travel is prohibitive (either due to cost or time), virtual focus groups and/or individual telephone interviews will be conducted.

Stay tuned! We have completed the first phase of our study and are just launching the survey and interview portions to find out more about the perceptions of nursing homes.

Nursing homes, as places and spaces of care, face a significant identity crisis in our current health care system. Often seen as environments that need to straddle both the social and medical world, nursing homes have been examining ways to adopt more person-centered practices to limit the effects of the ‘total institution’. Efforts to promote more “home-like” environments are balanced against efforts to provide advanced technical care to residents. Moreover, nursing homes are still perceived as somewhere to avoid; both in terms of a place of residence and also as a place of employment. This research study is also both necessary and timely in order to adequately inform public policy as to how to best address and meet the needs of the aging demographic to ensure they have opportunities to age in environments that promote dignity and respect and are free of stigma.

This project is being led by Dr. Genevieve Thompson (College of Nursing), nominated by her peers and the Centre on Aging staff to lead this newly formed research team. Dr. Laura Funk (Sociology) (Phase 1 Lead); Dr. Christina Lengyel (Food and Human Nutritional Sciences)(Phase 2 co-lead); Dr. Hai Luo’s (Social Work) (Phase 3 co-Lead); Dr. Phil St. John (Dept. of Family Medicine) (Phase 3 co-lead); Jamie Penner PhD(c) (College of Nursing) (Phase 2 co-lead); Dr. Kerstin Roger (Dept. Community Health Sciences)(Phase 3 co-lead); Dr. Malcolm Smith (Asper School of Business, Dept. of Marketing)(Phase 2); Dr. Sandra Webber (College of Medical Rehabilitation)(Phase 3)

University of Manitoba Collaborative Research Grant