Nov. 9, 2020

Nursing assistant professor says we need to support and care for caregivers in senior care

2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife: Gwen McGhan
Dr. Gwen McGhan, assistant professor
Dr. Gwen McGhan, assistant professor, UCalgary Nursing Colleen De Neve

As Dr. Gwen McGhan prepares for her upcoming Faculty of Nursing Breakfast Series: Food for Thought talk on Nov. 19, she will undoubtedly have to touch on the fact that COVID-19 has brought into more focus the unattractive realities of how we are failing in the quest to improve quality of life for older adults and those who care for them.

Long the centre of her research, McGhan says that the recent pandemic makes the role of the caregiver even more relevant. Her talk "The challenges and opportunities in caring for the caregiver" will highlight how the people who engage with older adults are generally very committed to that work. But the work can be exhausting as well as rewarding, and we are overdue to help caregivers manage.

We need more resources to help keep older adults healthy and comfortable," McGhan acknowledges, “but at the same time, we need to support caregivers, including family members, in their role of looking after an older adult who can then stay in their community longer.”

Consider what Year of the Nurse means to you. How would you like this designation to bring attention to the profession?
"To highlight the importance of nursing in the multidisciplinary healthcare environment and the unique skills we contribute across the care continuum." 

What’s one thing most people don’t know about nurses or one stereotype you’re often correcting?
"Nursing is a profession that encompasses many different environments and roles. Nurses contribute to the health of populations as frontline workers, educators, scientists, researchers and leaders." 

What would a world without nurses look like, in a few words?
"Very different and worse off."

Set one goal. Right now, for 2020.
"For family caregivers to be fully recognized and appreciated as essential contributors to our health-care system." 

In January of 2019, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the first ever “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

UCalgary Nursing will be celebrating the year with a variety of activities including a monthly series of reflections on the past and future of nursing and health care from our nursing community. To learn more, visit