Northern Educational Centre for Aging and Health 1991-2004
The Northern Educational Centre for Aging and Health (NECAH) was established at Lakehead University in 1991, located in the Health Sciences North building. The proposal to establish NECAH was submitted by the Gerontology Study group at Lakehead University to the Educational Centre for Aging and Health (ECAH) at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. McMaster had been granted 12 million dollars over ten years by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to undertake activities in Ontario universities that would increase the knowledge and skills of health care professionals to better meet the care needs of an aging population.
Through the affiliation between McMaster and Lakehead universities in medical education, NECAH was funded for three years to develop and deliver educational programs in aging to interdisciplinary health care professionals in Northwestern Ontario and students in the health professions studying at Lakehead. NECAH received core infrastructure funding for a full time director, and an administrative assistant. Between 1991 and 1994, NECAH became a well established and vibrant unit of the university and community.
In anticipation of the end of the core funding from McMaster University in 1995, the Centre applied for and received funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) for two education contracts. One was for interdisciplinary palliative care education (1992) and one was for geriatric mental health education (1997). These two service contracts with the MOHLTC, which flow though Lakehead University, continue today and are the core income of the Centre. There was ongoing research activity at NECAH, particularly educational research, but this was not the primary focus.
From 1991-2004 NECAH made major contributions to the development of gerontology in Northern Ontario while offering a northern perspective on aging and health at the national and international levels. The Directors and faculty members affiliated with NECAH, with the encouragement of Dr. Robert Rosehart (President) and Dr. John Whitfield (Vice-President Academic), established the Gerontology academic programs now offered by Lakehead University: the minor in Gerontology, the BA in Gerontology, the Collaborative Graduate Program in Gerontology, and two Certificates in Gerontology (Palliative Care and DementiaStudies). Students in gerontology participated in NECAH education programs to enrich their learning opportunities. While these programs are a legacy of the Centre, administration of the gerontology academic programs was removed from NECAH in 2001 during academic restructuring at Lakehead University. This had a financial impact on the Centre as funding for a .5 secretary had been allocated for administration of the academic programs, and a staff member was let go. While the gerontology academic programs are now administrated by the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, gerontology students highly value their opportunity to participate in Centre activities.
Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health 2004 – Present
Under the leadership of Dr. Michel Bédard, in 2004, NECAH was renamed the Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health (CERAH). The name was changed to reflect the Centre’s increased focus on research while still maintaining the education function. This change was timely in that Lakehead University established its first Policies and Procedures for the Establishment of Centres and Research Institutes in February 2004.
Since then, CERAH has brought together professionals, educators, researchers, students, caregivers and older adults in a collaborative effort to conduct research about the aging process and its relation to health and well-being, and to disseminate research knowledge to practitioners and decision makers in the health care field to improve care to older people.
In 2007, former Director Dr. Kelley and CERAH members undertook a major strategic planning initiative to reviews its mission and goals. Since 2007, CERAH’s mission is to advance health and social care for an aging population and promote the health and well being of older people. The Centre works to attain its mission and goals. Most recently in 2010, CERAH staff participated in a strategic planning retreat to further develop our mission statement to better reflect the research and education of the Centre. This new Mission Statement is to conduct high-quality knowledge translation to advance health and social care for an aging population and promote the health and well-being of people aging across the lifespan. Key priorities include: Aging at Home; Dementia & Geriatric Mental Health; Indigenous Peoples’ Health & Aging; Health Promotion & Exercise and Chronic Disease Management; Palliative Care.
CERAH uses a collaborative interdisciplinary approach to develop and administer a wide range of research and continuing education programs. To achieve this we:
- conduct research consistent with the mission;
- coordinate local, regional, provincial and national projects;
- develop multi-sectoral partnerships and project teams;
- conduct program/project evaluation studies;
- act as a resource centre;
- coordinate lectures, workshops and exhibits;
- offer continuing education sessions for professional and lay groups;
- organize conferences, forums and symposiums;
- develop educational materials such as manuals, videos and specialized curricula;
- publish articles, reports and newsletters;
- disseminate information and materials;
- provide consultation to community, organizations and government;
- collaborate and network with community-based organizations;
- network with other Centres on Aging in Canada.
CERAH’s educational initiatives include Caregiver Education and Support Programs, Palliative Care Education, and Forums on Interdisciplinary Gerontology. CERAH also provides various research services, including the development of research protocols and funding proposals, methodology and evaluation recommendations, and data analysis and reporting. CERAH incorporates innovation and excellence that is founded on its research and education activities, and subsequently promotes both quality of life and healthy aging.
Directors (Past and Present):
1991-1994 Mary Lou Kelley, MSW, School of Social Work
1994-1998 Jane Taylor, PhD, School of Kinesiology
1999-2003 Michael Stones, PhD, Department of Psychology
2003-2005 Michel Bédard, PhD, Master of Public Health Program
2006-2009 Mary Lou Kelley, PhD, School of Social Work
2009-2016 Ian Newhouse, PhD, School of Kinesiology
2016-present Elaine Wiersma, PhD, Department of Health Sciences