Dementia research project earns KITE Trainee a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Graduate Scholarship

Alexia Cumal’s research aims to improve the ability of people living with dementia to care for themselves

Alexia Cumal, research trainee on the Enhancing the Care of the Older Adult Research (EnCOAR) Team at KITE, has received a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral (CGS D) Award.    

The CGS D program supports and promotes research excellence in a wide variety of disciplines and broad fields of health, natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities. It provides recipients $35,000 per year in funding for three years to support their doctoral studies.  

“I felt honoured and grateful to be chosen as one of the recipients of this award,” said Cumal, who is a PhD student in Nursing Science at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto and is a registered nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital.   

“I’m really excited to carry out a project which will hopefully have a positive impact on older adults with dementia.”

For her PhD project, Cumal will conduct a feasibility study of a nurse-led reablement intervention for older adults with dementia in transitional care programs.

Reablement is a person-centred approach within health and social care that helps individuals to learn or re-learn the skills necessary to be able to engage in activities or occupations that are important to them. 

Over the course of 12 weeks, Cumal will work with older adults with dementia who are in facility-based transitional care programs. These programs are for patients that are medically stable but are not yet ready to return home after a hospital stay. 

“Ensuring there are transitional care programs developed to meet the unique needs of persons with dementia is imperative if we expect excellent care for all Canadians,” said KITE scientist Dr. Kathy McGilton who, along with fellow KITE scientist Dr. Tracey Colella, is supervising Cumal on this project.  

“This is a vital and understudied area; her work will have enormous potential to effect reform.”

As part of this intervention, Cumal will create tailored mobility activities that aim to improve the functional abilities of patients with dementia, which should increase their likelihood of being discharged home. 

“There is a clear need for new interventions as the number of Canadians living with dementia is expected to nearly triple to 1.7 million by 2050,” said Cumal. 

Cumal’s project is expected to begin in 2023.