Caregiving for vulnerable and marginalized older adults at the end of life


Most Canadians with life-limiting illnesses are cared for by family members at home. Research has shown that family caregivers experience significant physical, psychological, social and financial burdens, and that these burdens increase as care becomes more complex near end of life. However, not all families are the same, nor do dying people always have access to a safe and secure home environment and/or family members.

To date, no research has explored the non-traditional caregiving experience of “chosen” or street-family caring for vulnerable and marginalized populations, including those who are homeless.

Working with inner city palliative care teams in three Canadian cities (Victoria, Calgary and Toronto), Kelli Stajduhar, a nursing professor and research affiliate with UVic’s Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, will lead a new study that aims to expand our understanding of the non-traditional caregiver experience by exploring who provides palliative care, what types of supports they provide, where care usually happens, and the impacts on caregivers. The team will receive $992,000 from CIHR over four years.

The study will lead to new policy and program recommendations for improving supports to caregivers of vulnerable older adults at end of life.


This research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research 

Principal Investigator

Research Team

  • Sally Thorne, Co-Applicant (University of British Columbia)
  • Marilou Gagnon, Co-Applicant (University of Victoria)
  • Fred Chou, Co-Applicant (University of Victoria)
  • Ryan McNeil, Co-Applicant (Yale University)
  • Sonja Jakubec, Co-Applicant (Mount Royal University)
  • Rick Sawatzky, Co-Applicant (Trinity Western University)
  • Naheed Dosani, Co-Applicant (Inner City Health Associates, PEACH)
  • Simon Colgan, Co-Applicant (Alberta Health Services, CAMPP)
  • Fraser Black, Co-Applicant (Island Health, PORT)
  • Jill Gerke, Co-Applicant (Island Health)
  • Melissa Giesbrecht, Research Associate (University of Victoria)
  • Amber Bourgeois, PhD Student (University of Victoria)
  • Ashley Mollison, PhD Student (University of Victoria)
  • Kara WhitlockProject Coordinator (University of Victoria)
  • Lexy Stewart, Research Assistant (University of Victoria)