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MS Nursing thesis defence: "Promoting Functional Status of Older Adults in the Emergency Department: Exploring Emergency Department Nurses’ Perceptions of Care Related to Functional Decline”

by:  Mary Ostrowski

Supervisor:  Dr. Faith Richardson

Second Reader:  Dr. Landa Terblanche

Third Reader:  Dr. Corinna Vogt

Exam Chair:  Dr. Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham

Date:  Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Time:  1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Location:  Board of Governors’ Hall, RSC


Older adults presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) are at risk for functional decline. Registered Nurses (RNs) in the ED are stressed to optimize the functional status of older adults in a dynamic practice environment with conflicting priorities and system demands. This interpretive description qualitative study used elements of action research and visual methods to explore ED nurses’ perceptions of care on promoting the functional status of older adults in the ED. Eleven purposefully selected ED RNs completed a questionnaire and participated in up to three semi-structured interviews. Study results suggest that improving the ED nurses’ ability to promote the functional status of older adults in the ED can improve the wellbeing of older adults and ease nurses’ distress. From a cost and quality of life perspective, the vulnerability of older adults toward functional decline and the vulnerability of ED nurses toward moral distress, must be recognized and addressed. 

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