Luke Turcotte

Aging, Health and Well-being PhD Candidate (School of Public Health and Health Systems)

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Making a difference

The population of older adults in Canada is growing faster than ever before. Luke Turcotte has a strong personal motivation for studying post-acute rehabilitative care for older adults with complex medical conditions. What may be a fast, simple recovery from illness or injury among younger people, can be a devastating and life changing event for an older adult. Often identified as an understudied population, Luke is motivated to make a difference;

I'm interested in the post-acute rehab population because, despite their complexity, many patients will have an opportunity to regain function and achieve independence again.

A whiz with large health databases, Luke started familiarizing himself with interRAI data (collected to measure clinical characteristics and patient outcomes in hospital, community, and residential care settings) long before he started his PhD. During his undergraduate studies, Luke had the opportunity to work as a research assistant with Professor John Hirdes. It Luke Turcotte engaged in conversation with an older adultwas then that he began to explore and work with interRAI data. After that he was hooked, “it’s such a rich source of data... it allows us to conduct research that informs decision-making for patient care, quality improvement, and system capacity planning”. Now in his third year of his PhD, Luke is working to characterize trajectories of recovery for older patients receiving post-acute rehabilitation, “we have an opportunity to study patient, facility, and system-level factors that influence the path of recovery as patients transition from hospital to community care”.

Stepping outside of the comfort zone

Luke chose the University of Waterloo for his PhD not only because of his passion for interRAI health information systems, but also for the inter-disciplinary nature of aging-research and the vast resources available to him within the program. Luke explains,

AHWB provides an opportunity to collaborate with folks in Recreation and Leisure Studies and Kinesiology who may have different approaches to aging research but share my focus towards improving the health and well-being of older adults.

Even though Luke identifies as a quantitative researcher, influences from other faculty members such as Professor Sherry Dupuis and fellow AHWB student Kim Lopez have given him a welcome exposure to other ways of conducting research, "health information systems used for research typically describe patient attributes using numeric scales... sometimes you lose the patient's voice." Luke has now taken on a multi-method study, conducting the qualitative phase himself, “I wouldn’t have been so motivated to do that type of work had it not been for the influence of peers in the AHWB program”.

Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems