New Brunswick Opens Canada’s First Long-Term Care Simulation Lab
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New Brunswick Opens Canada’s First Long-Term Care Simulation Lab

The simulation lab will help to better train and understand how better prevent diseases in long term care homes.

By Dami Igbinyemi

The Covid-19 pandemic had a major negative impact on long-term care homes in Canada, that resulted in a national review of how to better protect the most vulnerable while they are in care. Most long-term care resident’s immune systems are already compromised due to their age and underlining illnesses which contributes to an increased rate of infection. During the first wave in Canada, residents of nursing and seniors’ homes accounted for more than 80% of all reported Covid-19 deaths.

Yesterday, Trevor Holder, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour joined officials from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and other partners at the opening of the Long-Term Care Simulation Lab at Loch Lomond Villa in Saint John. A newly constructed and renovated space for research. This project led by Dr. Rose McCloskey from UNB will give researchers a better understanding of how illnesses like COVID-19 spread and how to prevent them in long-term care facilities.

“The COVID-19 response highlights the fact that evidence on best practices and infection prevention and control measures 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. “Although we are on the path to green, the knowledge generated will be key in preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in long-term care facilities, and better ensuring the safety of residents and staff in New Brunswick and beyond.”

The Long-Term Simulation Lab received $200,000 in funding from the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and $50,000 from the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. Support also came from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation and the Bird Construction, Ltd.

This simulation duplicates a long-term care setting and allows the researchers to see how illnesses like COVID-19 spread in long care homes without compromising the health and safety of residents and staff. To do this, robotic simulators that can breathe and talk will be studied. From the information gathered, researchers will then be able to develop, test and implement medical and social countermeasures for transmissible disease.

This simulation lab will support research innovation, knowledge sharing and training to front-line workers. The lab is available to all faculty members in the department of nursing and health science in Saint John, but will mostly be used by Dr. McCloskey, co-investigators Dr. Karan Furlong and Dr. Isdore Chola Shamputa and the director of digital health and virtual learning in UNB Fredericton’s faculty of nursing Dr. Lynn Nagle.

“This lab exemplifies the commitment, the partnership, the expertise and the drive that we find within our community, and the positive impact this has on the world around us,” said Dr. David MaGee, UNB vice-president (research). “In this project, we see researchers responding to a present, critical need for new knowledge to help our communities, as well as the support of partners to bring their vision to life. Perhaps most of all, we see the creation of something that will help propel our institution, our province, and our world forward toward a healthier, safer, sustainable tomorrow. Congratulations to all involved.”

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