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Biography

Program of Research and Approach to Teaching and Mentoring

As a sociologist and social gerontologist, my scholarship enhances understandings of how older adults and paid and unpaid carers interpret experiences, preserve identities, and negotiate normative ideals. My research a) addresses how these processes use and reinforce discourses surrounding age, care and responsibility, and b) interrogates the structures of care for older adults, including the pressing, often invisible impacts on paid and unpaid carers in the context of decades of health reform in Canada.

For instance, I have explored the often-invisible contributions of family carers, including system navigation work (Research Manitoba Establishment Award, 2013-2017), as well as how politically and economically motivated changes in Canadian health and long-term sectors have led to increasing reliance on volunteers and paid companions (Centre on Aging Research Fellowship, 2012) and complicated the emotional labour of nurses and health care aides (Riverview Health Centre Grant, 2012)

Recently I led a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2016-2018) examining how people working and interacting with older adults in different situations interpret the meaning of aggression and violence.

Currently I lead a SSHRC Insight Grant team of researchers using mixed methods to examine the intersection between policy discourse and public understandings of the meaning of dying at home and responsibility for end of life care.

I am also completing research with internal research grant funding which examines how older adults and their carers are engaged in democratic governance processes in Manitoba.

Lastly, I am also well-known for a separate line of research into the phenomenon of Living Apart Together especially as this phenomenon is expressed among older adults.

Recent Public Sociology

In recent years I have contributed to the public discourse on family caregiving through three Op-Eds (2019, ,2018 and another in 2017 that was recently updated in French language) and a report on system navigation for the Institute for Research on Public Policy. In 2018 I also authored an academic blog post for the International Network on Critical Gerontology.  I also frequently provide media interviews on topics ranging from home care, to family caregiving to Living Apart Together.

My other contributions to public sociology focus on enhancing the quality of life of family caregivers and older adults. I disseminate my research to health care practitioners and policy-makers (e.g., Long-Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba, Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba, Manitoba Gerontological Nurses Association).  In addition, in 2012 I led a consultation process with 400 family and friend caregivers for Manitoba’s Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat.

Academic Biography

  • BA (Honours) University of British Columbia, Sociology (1997)
  • Post-baccalaureate diploma, Simon Fraser University, Gerontology (2000)
  • MA, University of Victoria, Sociology (2002), funded by BC Health Research Foundation/Canadian Health Services Research Foundation
  • PhD, University of Victoria, Sociology (2008), funded by SSHRC
  • Post-doctoral fellowship, University of Victoria, Centre on Aging (2011), funded by CIHR

Teaching and Graduate Student Mentorship

Most often, I teach SOC 2620 (The Sociology of Aging), and SOC 7420 (Qualitative Research Methods for Sociological Inquiry).  I have also taught SOC 3450 (Sociological Perspectives on Social Determinants of Health). Past students have commented that I provide prompt and complete feedback, am well prepared, approachable, helpful, and enthusiastic; these have been identified as principles of effective teaching.

In 2015, I authored the text Sociological Perspectives on Aging for Oxford University Press and currently use it in my own teaching.

I welcome the chance to supervise highly motivated graduate students with interests in the sociological study of aging, health, and formal and informal (family) care.  I am committed to promoting integrity within a supportive and encouraging graduate student-supervisor partnership, and look forward to helping guide students in their academic and career goals. Students are expected to demonstrate integrity, sensitivity and considerable diligence and effort in their pursuit of academic success.

I am currently supervising graduate students who are examining a range of sociological issues related to personal care homes; home-based care for older adults; and palliative and end of life care.