News at the University of New Brunswick

UNB project will help protect long-term care residents and workers from virus spread

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Jan 11, 2021

Category: UNB Saint John , myUNB

A University of New Brunswick project, led by professor Dr. Rose McCloskey, will give researchers a better understanding of how to prevent the spread of illness among long-term care residents.

On Nov. 6, 2020, the Government of Canada announced $28 million in funding for 79 projects across the country as part of the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) COVID-19 Exceptional Opportunities Fund competition. Dr. McCloskey, professor of nursing at UNB in Saint John, was among those funded – one of only two in the Atlantic region, and the only one in New Brunswick.

Dr. McCloskey’s project will see the creation of a simulation laboratory that replicates a long-term care setting, enabling researchers to better understand how to prevent the spread of diseases like COVID-19 in real-world settings, without compromising the safety of residents or staff. From this understanding, researchers will be able to develop, test and implement medical and social countermeasures to COVID-19, contributing to this crucial body of knowledge.

“The COVID-19 response highlights the fact that evidence on best practices and infection prevention and control measures target hospitals and community settings, and that they often do not reflect the realities of long-term care, which include cultural factors, shared spaces and equipment use and individual behaviours related to cognitive impairments,” said Dr. McCloskey. “Knowledge generated will be key in preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, and better ensuring the safety of residents and staff in New Brunswick and beyond.”

The project will be funded by $200,000 from the CFI, as well as $218,565 in support from additional partners: $50,000 from the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour; $68,565 from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, $50,000 from the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, and $50,000 from Bird Construction, Ltd.

Saint John’s Loch Lomond Villa has donated 3,600 square feet of its existing facility and resident room equipment as well as ongoing maintenance support, which are essential parts of the project’s success.

Loch Lomond Villa is an ideal location for the research lab, as the facility has been recognized globally for its high quality of care, leadership and innovation in long-term care.

“This exciting project builds on our long-standing relationship with UNB in Saint John conducting valuable research,” said Cindy Donovan, CEO of Loch Lomond Villa. “We are proud to be the community partner in the development of New Brunswick’s only long-term care COVID-19 simulation lab. Loch Lomond Villa is a leader in providing person-centred care and we look forward to once again partnering with UNB in this important research.”

The research simulation lab will be used by Dr. McCloskey and co-investigators Dr. Karen Furlong and Dr. Isdore Chola Shamputa, all in the department of nursing and health sciences in Saint John, and Dr. Lynn Nagle, director of digital health and virtual learning in UNB Fredericton’s faculty of nursing.

This new facility will enhance innovation and research across the province and country by providing a venue to test and develop new technologies and approaches to care in a real-life controlled environment.

It will provide research and training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in infection prevention and control, further supporting the development of highly qualified experts in the province.

The simulation lab builds on an existing long-term partnership with Loch Lomond Villa, and will enable new partnerships between UNB researchers, industry leaders, policy makers and clinicians that will have long-lasing benefits beyond COVID-19. It will support knowledge sharing and training to front-line staff, particularly those for whom training and education may otherwise be inaccessible.

“Dr. McCloskey’s project responds to an immediate need in our community: keeping New Brunswickers safe from COVID-19,” said Dr. David MaGee, UNB’s vice-president (research). “Beyond that, it aligns with our provincial government’s Aging Strategy and with our own health focus, responding to the need to better protect our aging neighbours and those who do the critical work of caring for them. It is a wonderful example of the applied research partnerships at UNB and of the positive impact our research community has on the world.”

The research project is anticipated to last five years, and the funding received will be used to support physical space renovation and the acquisition of simulation infrastructure and equipment.

Media contact: Jeremy Elder-Jubelin

Photo: Dr. Rose McCloskey. Credit: UNB Media Services

Additional quotes

“Canadian researchers and scientists are helping to protect our health and safety and are key to finding our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this funding through the Exceptional Opportunities Fund, the Government of Canada is ensuring these talented Canadians have the equipment and tools to support them in their very important work.” - The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Canadian researchers’ immediate response to the pandemic has demonstrated the research community’s crucial role in helping to resolve this crisis. Working to find a vaccine, to learn about how COVID-19 affects the human body, or to study how this pandemic has influenced every aspect of our lives, Canada’s researchers have taken centre stage as our guides and our source of hope. The CFI is proud to support their efforts by equipping them with the research infrastructure they need to further their significant work.” - Dr. Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation

“Dependable public health care is one of our government’s priorities, and I am pleased to announce funding for this long-term-care research project. We are proud that such important work will be carried out in New Brunswick with support from the university, governments, the foundations and Loch Lomond Villa. I believe this collaborative approach is key to addressing our greatest challenges, including COVID-19, here in New Brunswick and beyond.” - The Honourable Trevor Holder, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour

“NBIF is proud to support Dr. Rose McCloskey and her team in the creation of the Long-term Care Simulation Lab. This lab will offer an opportunity to trial approaches for handling COVID-19 in a long-term care setting and create a unique testbed for industry to develop products for the health market. Local companies are already involved, and we’re excited to see the impactful innovations that Rose’s work will enable.” - Dr. Laura Richard, Director of Research, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation

“NBHRF is proud to support Dr. McCloskey's work in seniors' health, a very relevant issue in New Brunswick, which has the fastest growing population over the age of 65 in the country. The ability to reproduce real life situations that arise in long term care facilities in their fight against COVID-19 will not only save lives but also provide the foundation for dealing with future pandemics.” - Peter Brenders, CEO, New Brunswick Health Research Foundation

“Bird Construction’s Atlantic team is pleased to be a funding partner in support of Dr. McCloskey’s project. Both UNB and Loch Lomond Villa have been longstanding partners of ours, and we are pleased to assist in this important research and education initiative. Along with the financial support, Bird will provide technical expertise gained through our previous simulation lab projects to share lessons learned and best practices associated with these technically complex facilities.” - Rick Buhr, Director of Design and Key Accounts, Bird Construction Inc.