Over the past decade I have participated in multiple international comparative studies. One recently completed project sought to identify promising practices in long-term residential care for older persons. Here we aimed to learn from exceptional long-term care facilities in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, the US and UK. For more information, you can visit our project website, which includes links to a number of free publications:


Another international comparative project that began in 2018 aims to identify promising practices in the development of age-friendly communities. We are particularly interested in identifying promising practices that take gender, diversity and meaning into account. Through this project researchers will travel to seven Canadian cities and five international ones to learn from promising age-friendly initiatives. For more information see:


What these projects on promising practices have taught me is that transformation is difficult. We have found that solutions to problems often end up looking very much like the problems they are trying to solve! Take for instance the use of auditing in residential care facilities. Auditing attempts to ensure quality by monitoring and measuring care. But instead of improving care, it has contributed to highly regulated, bureaucratic environments where paperwork trumps people. Or consider narratives of successful aging that have extended visions of productivity and activity to old age. While intended to offer a more positive vision of aging, it continues to reproduce the fear of growing old and our understanding of aging as something to be avoided.


What to make of these failures to innovate? My sense is that they have not really challenged or moved beyond our deep-seated assumptions or values. As Einstein is thought to have said, we cannot solve problems with the same type of thinking that created them. The medical humanist David Greaves goes further. He suggests that if we are to successfully address the most urgent health challenges we will require an entirely new cosmology. Not a small task! In order to think differently about health and aging – and to challenge my own assumptions – my current research draws on two sources of inspiration that inhabit non-dominant cosmologies: feminist care theories and contemplative traditions, particularly of the yogic variety.


Feminist care theories

Working in the context of long-term residential care, my research recognises that care has its own “logic” (to use Annemarie Mol’s term), which needs to be understood and respected if care is to be improved on its own terms. I’m currently using a logic of care approach to identify and learn from practices that can support relational caring in nursing homes.


One practice that interests me is interdisciplinary reflection meetings that bring staff (care providers and managers) together to identify and resolve problems. These relational practices work to produce context sensitive and timely solutions to quality problems. And they offer a counterpoint to auditing, one in which workers are empowered rather than treated as objects of surveillance. 


Yogic theory and practice

Another line of inquiry aims to learn from contemplative traditions, especially from yogic theory and practice. The physical postures of yog have become an important health practice for many Canadians. However, in focusing on the physical we have missed promising aspects of yogic theory and practice. It is these aspects of yog that most interest me. In order to learn from yog and de-colonize my research methodologies I have partnered with a yogic expert ( and together we are conducting a study of experienced yogic practitioners. We are aiming to learn how yog has transformed their understanding of self and through this how yog might help us re-imagine health, aging and happiness.