Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linkedin Follow us on Facebook

A Pilot Project to Develop a Community Needs Driven Research Network for Continuing Care in Alberta

In February 2012 Alberta Innovates Health Solutions provided grant funds for a pilot project to develop a Community Needs Driven Research Network (CNDRN) for continuing care in Alberta.

Why is a CNDRN needed?

As in many areas of health research, much of the current research activity in continuing care is driven by the interests of the researchers. While this can be relevant to clinical service delivery and address clinical needs, the clinical partners are often relegated to playing the role of sources of data rather than being full partners in the research. More significantly, clinical needs that require research study are often identified by clinical providers, but there is no vehicle for those needs to be formulated as research questions suitable for the identification of research teams. Even if questions can be appropriately identified, it is often difficult to develop interdisciplinary research teams to pursue the research questions collaboratively. A major barrier to the development of such collaborative research teams is that the teams are often cobbled together only when a research proposal is to be developed or a source of funding has been identified. There is not a cohesive brokering system available to link researchers to front-line derived or needs-driven research questions. ICCER has conducted a number of regional workshops aimed at networking providers of continuing care, academic institutions and government departments to identify the needs of seniors and others in continuing care.

ICCER is also part of an initiative to develop an information sharing process to support the work of the Seniors Advisory Council for Alberta - a body that provides advice and recommendations to the Minster regarding the needs of seniors. Concerns and issues raised by seniors will be vetted through post-secondary institutions to establish evidence (or not) for the issues raised. This linkage provides the opportunity to impact policy for both seniors and continuing care, since responsibility for continuing care is now shared between Alberta Seniors and Alberta Health & Wellness.

The concept

A Needs Reference Group will be established with leadership from the ICCER partners who are continuing care providers. These individuals represent front-line workers and managers of continuing care service delivery across the spectrum from home care to long term care. The needs reference group will include a range of providers from public and private sectors and from rural and urban areas of the province. They will be charged with the identification of pressing needs in continuing care that need more research to establish evidence-based care or best practices. Through a series of meetings (via teleconference and face-to-face) a prioritized list of critical areas of research needs will be produced.

A Research Reference Group will be established with leadership from the ICCER partners representing post-secondary institutions. These individuals will be carefully chosen based on their ability to link broadly with their institutions. Additional researchers will be added to this group as necessary. The mandate of the research reference group is to re-cast the needs identified in the prioritized list from the needs reference group into researchable research questions. These questions will then be subjected to a thorough literature review to determine what research exists in the identified area and to identify gaps in current knowledge relative to the identified topics.

The two groups will then collaboratively develop research questions, and identify potential demonstration projects to further refine the top two top priority research questions. The demonstration project outcome may lead to a larger proposal or may result in immediately usable information. Knowledge transfer of what is learned from both the literature reviews and the demonstration projects will be disseminated to the continuing care provider network and the researchers through ICCER's partners. Provider sites will partner with researchers to conduct the demonstration projects.

Capacity within the continuing care sector will be enhanced through the linking of the Needs Reference Group and the Research Reference Group.

What we have done

  • Develop a Needs Reference Group and a Research Reference Group.
  • Consult with over 50 individuals from the continuing care sector during August and September 2012.
  • Establish two projects based on the highest priority needs identified in the consultation process:
    1. the evaluation of learning circles as an alternative method of increasing knowledge transfer and implementation of best practice research among point-of-care providers (issue: Adult learning)
    2. development of a roadmap for a Behavioural Supports Alberta (issue: Challenging Behaviours)


More information on the results of the consultation process will be released in early 2013.


This project is funded by a Strategic Initiative Grant from Alberta Innovates Health Solutions.