A look into the Doctoral research project of Émilie Cormier:

A phenomenological-existential exploration of the experience of palliative care at the end of life of older adults who have lived in a situation of homelessness.

February 23, 2022

By Émilie Cormier

Read it in French here

Various laws concerning end-of-life care in Canada advocate for a need to ensure that everyone, and especially the most vulnerable of individuals -among which are older persons with experiences of homelessness (OPEH)-, have access to quality end-of-life palliative care (EOLPC). Nevertheless, the implementation of measures that respond to this imperative remains scarce. Despite the urgency of the issue, relatively few researchers have looked into ways of improving the EOLPC system to ensure that supports are accessible and adapted for OPEHs. Even more rare are studies exploring the individual perspectives of OPEH on their experiences of EOLPC.

It is in this context that the Montreal team will meet the field in the coming months to better understand the nature of the services that support the end of life of OPEH. This phase of the research will revolve around the doctoral research project of Émilie Cormier who is also a research assistant within the AIRP/VABE project. During her research project entitled Homecoming? A phenomenological-existential exploration of the experience of palliative care at the end of life of older adults who have lived in a situation of homelessness, Émilie wishes to meet with OPEH who receive palliative care to better understand their lived experience of care with a particular focus on what home represents to them at this ultimate stage of life. Her extremely creative research design is based on diverse visual research methodologies ranging from photovoice to photographic elicitation through means of research-creation.

The photovoice interviews with OPEH receiving EOLPC will be an opportunity to initiate her doctoral work while contributing to the AIRP/VABE project. Parallel to the OPEH interviews, a caregiver or service provider who has accompanied the OPEH to the EOLPC could be invited if they express interest to participate in a semi-structured interview. An environmental audit and a de-identified document review will complement the data collection of the establishment accessed by each of the OPEHs participating in the photovoice interviews.

Rather than observing a promising practice that specifically offers EOLPC to OPEH, this phase of the research will be an opportunity for the Montreal team to report on the demonstrated capacities and limitations experienced by services offered to the general population to support the end of life of OPEH. The complementarity of data collection tools will provide a better understanding of which promising aspects show merit to be replicated. It will make it possible to identify avenues for improving or differentiating the EOLPC offered to promote service provisions that better meet the needs of OPEH at the end of their life.

If you work with seniors who live in a situation of homelessness or who have experienced homelessness and would like to learn more about the project, do not hesitate to contact us:

Émilie Cormier
Doctoral Candidate
Psychology Department, Université du Québec