New Brunswick

'I think there's a lot we can learn': New St. Thomas research chair ready to get started

St. Thomas University has hired its first research chair in community health and aging about a year and a half after the position was created.

Albert Banerjee to begin term in health and aging position this summer

Albert Banerjee said he's 'absolutely thrilled' to be moving to Fredericton. (Submitted by St. Thomas University)

St. Thomas University has hired its first research chair in community health and aging about a year and a half after the position was created.

Albert Banerjee will be the first person to step into the role since the five-year position was announced in August 2017.

He says his priority as chair is to change the way people think about quality care in nursing homes. He said more research needs to be done about dealing with capacity in long-term care.

"We tend to underestimate the role that relationships play in delivering care," Banerjee said.

"I think we need to rethink the place of the public sector and in making sure that we have these facilities [for seniors] available."

Banerjee said he's "absolutely thrilled" to be coming to Fredericton. He was conducting research in Toronto in January when he learned he got the position.

"A shiver went down my spine," he said.

Thinking differently about aging

Banerjee is a research associate at the Trent College for Aging and Society and teaches a research methods class at Carleton University in Ottawa.

As chair, Banerjee will be a tenured faculty member at St. Thomas. He'll also conduct research and teach three courses in the university's gerontology department.

The chair position is funded with $1 million over the next five years by the McCain Foundation and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation.

New Brunswick has the fastest growing proportion of seniors in Canada. Many seniors in the province live outside of hospitals, nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

Banarjee took part in an international study after finishing his dissertation that allowed him to travel around the world.

"I think that this kind of experience really has helped me think differently about growing old and being healthy."

​Banerjee is also part of an international study examining how Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan and Canada are developing their cities and communities in age-friendly ways.

The aim of the study is to find out how age-friendly communities can become more inclusive.

Banerjee said he'd like to make Fredericton part of that conversation. "I think there's a lot that we can learn and a lot that we have to share."

His position at St. Thomas starts in July.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Morin

Reporter

Sarah Morin is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick. She grew up in Thunder Bay and London, Ont. and moved to Fredericton for university. You can follow her on Twitter @sarrymorin or send a story tip to sarah.morin@cbc.ca.

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