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Seniors – Adding Life to Years (SALTY) Project SALTY logo

Everyone wants to live well in their final years but this may be a challenge, particularly for people living in long term care settings. Seniors - Adding Life to Years (SALTY) is a project developed by researchers, care providers, care administrators, policy makers and older adults and their families from across Canada. SALTY is a four-year research project that aims to add quality to late life for people living in long term care and for their caregivers, including family, friends, volunteers and care workers who support their care. SALTY’s research is organized into four interrelated streams: Monitor Care Practice, Map Promising Approaches to Care Relationships, Evaluate Implementation of an Innovative Palliative Approach to End of Life Care, and Examine Policy Context. The project which employs diverse and multiple methods is being conducted in four Canadian provinces - British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia. SALTY results will have relevance for jurisdictions across Canada.

SALTY was developed under the direction of Dr. Janice Keefe at the lead institution, Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia.

The project is funded through a Late Life Issues grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, in partnership with Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation and Alzheimer Society of Canada, 2016 through to 2020.

Check back frequently to see updates on the progress of the project.

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SALTY Project Leads:

KeefeScientific Lead
Janice Keefe, PhD

Director Nova Scotia Centre on Aging
Lena Isabel Jodrey Chair in Gerontology
Professor, Department of Family Studies and Gerontology
Mount Saint Vincent University,

EstabrooksScientific Co-Lead
Carole Estabrooks, PhD

Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Translation
Professor, Faculty of Nursing
University of Alberta,

Cook_no white frameKnowledge User Lead

Heather Cook, BScN, MScN

Director, Systemic Review and Research
Office of the Seniors Advocate, BC.



MacDonaldClinical Lead
Leah MacDonald, PhD  

Medical Director,
Home and Community Care/ End of Life Program
Island Health, British Columbia

FifieldResident and Family Lead
Heather Fifield

Family Caregiver
Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

What’s the Latest News

SALTY reaches the mid-point of the project!

April 1st, 2018 marked the beginning of the third year of the four-year SALTY project. Project leads, and knowledge user representatives from the four study provinces (NS, ON, AB and BC), met at the end of April to review the accomplishments of the first half of the project and strategize and plan the final two years.

Dr. Janice Keefe, Dr. Carole Estabrooks, Dr. Ivy Bourgeault and Dr. Denise Cloutier conducted a panel presentation sharing preliminary findings and insights from the SALTY Project at the Canadian Association of Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) conference in Montreal in May. 
A second full team videoconference was held in June allowing our large team of 50+ researchers,  decision makers, administrators, residents, family, volunteers and care workers to discuss project progress and future activities.

In the coming months, study findings will be presented at the Canadian Association on Gerontology (CAG) in October and the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) in November (see study stream activities below for details) and plans are underway for an in-person full team meeting in Halifax, May 2019.

Study stream activities:

The Monitoring Care Practice team (stream 1) led by Dr. Carole Estabrooks and Dr. Matthias Hoben at the University of Alberta completed Delphi webinars with decision makers to prioritize outcomes of quality of care at end of life using RAI-MDS 2.0 data. Currently they are conducting online surveys of health providers, clinicians and facility managers, and planning interviews with care aides, residents and family members to obtain those perspectives. Dr. Hoben will present their abstract “Web-based Delphi panels - an innovative method to integrate key stakeholders in research on end of life in nursing homes” as a poster at CAG2018 in October.
Mapping Care Relationships team (stream 2) led by Dr. Tamara Daly, Dr. Ivy Bourgeault and Dr. Katie Aubrecht. The researchers from this team completed training in their ethnographic research methodology at a pilot site in January and their Ontario fieldwork in April. Fieldwork work in Nova Scotia will be completed in September with Alberta and British Columbia planned for spring and summer 2019.

Evaluating Implementation of an Innovative Palliative Approach to EoL Care (stream 3) led by Dr. Kelli Stajduhar, Dr. Denise Cloutier and Dr. Leah MacDonald. To support their evaluation of an end of life implementation project the team has completed baseline data collection and is currently in the second phase of data collection. Analysis of baseline data from long term care facilities in Island Health has started and the first two manuscripts from this team are in progress..

Examining Policy Context (stream 4) led by Dr. Janice Keefe, Dr. Dee Taylor and Heather Cook continues with policy analysis through the lenses of residents, care workers, family and volunteers. Dr. Dee Taylor will present findings from the comparison of long term care policy across the four provinces using a resident perspective at CAG2018 in October, and Dr. Janice Keefe will present findings highlighting policy differences between jurisdictions when considering friend/family caregiver involvement in resident quality end of life at the GSA conference in November.

The SALTY Trainee Network: The three trainee co-leads are moving on from their SALTY trainee roles. Dr. Matthias Hoben completed his fellowship with Dr. Carole Estabrooks at University of Alberta accepting a position as Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing at University of Alberta. Dr. Katie Aubrecht is completing her Health Impact Fellowship with Dr. Susan Stevens at the NS Health Authority and Dr. Janice Keefe at MSVU and has been awarded Canada Research Chair Tier II Health Equity and Social Justice at St. Francis Xavier University. Dr. Aubrecht will start her position at St. FX in September. Dr. Dee Taylor completes her SALTY postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Janice Keefe this summer and starts a fellowship in Health System Improvement at the University of Alberta in the September. All three will continue in their roles as SALTY Lead Investigators.

The SALTY Trainee Network which includes postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students from across the four project streams and provinces, will continue to meet regularly under the leadership of the two newest SALTY postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Mary Jean Hande and Dr. Vasuki Shanmuganathan.

The SALTY Advisory group, composed of family caregivers, volunteers, care aids and persons with dementia, welcomed a resident representative in the fall. They continue to meet quarterly engaging with our research teams and trainees, as does the SALTY KT Advisory Group composed of knowledge users and decision makers from the LTC sector from across the jurisdictions.

Project Milestones


  • April - Project received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation.
  • May - 2 project trainees participated in the 2016 CIHR Institute of Aging's Summer Program in Aging in Toronto focused on the theme of "Recognizing Frailty and Improving Care".
  • SALTY teamSeptember - First in-person team meeting – Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 18th – 20th.

  • September - Dr. Janice Keefe and Dr. Matthias Hoben presented a webinar entitled Improving End of Life care in Long term care on September 27, 2016. This was an integrated KTE webinar event by brainXchange in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Canadian Consortium of Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA). View the archived webinar here.
  • December - Meeting of Stream 4 Team to discuss policy document selection and analysis approach.
  • January - In-person meeting of Stream 1 Team to discuss data collection and other stream activities.


  • SALTY 2May - Full team meeting via video conference technology, May 9.

  • May – Dr. Katie Aubrecht presented “Seniors – Adding Life to Years: A Canadian Project Focusing on Late Life Long Term Care” poster at the Canadian Disability Studies Association 2017 conference in Toronto.
  • June - In person meeting of Stream 2 to discuss stream activities.
  • June - Stream 4 completed the policy document retrieval and coding.
  • June – “Seniors – Adding Life to Years: A Canadian Project Focusing on Late Life Long Term Care” poster displayed at Northwood Research Symposium.
  • SALTY 3July – Dr. Dee Taylor presented “Finding rabbit holes without falling in: Navigating palliative care policy in Canadian Long-term Care” poster at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) 2017 World Congress in San Francisco.

  • SALTY 4November – Dr. Janice Keefe, Dr. Katie Aubrecht, Dr. Matthias Hoben, Dr. Della Roberts and Dr. Dee Taylor hosted a NS provincial sector workshop at Mount Saint Vincent University for key decision makers and stakeholders from the Nova Scotia long term care sector.


  • January – In-person meeting of stream 1 to discuss stream activities.
  • January - Stream 2 team training in ethnographic methodology at a pilot site in Ontario.
  • SALTY 5April - meeting of team leads and knowledge user representative from each province to review progress and plan for remainder of project

  • CHASPER conferenceMay - panel presentation by stream leads at Canadian Association of Health Services and Policy Research Conference, Montreal

  • June – 2nd full team meeting via video conference, June 18
  • DSC_0646August – SALTY Trainees Prince Owusu and Lily Lu attended the Knowledge Mobilization Master Class at the International Federation on Aging (IFA) conference in Toronto on August 7th.