TWU Professor Dr. Rick Sawatzky uses quality of life data to improve the lives of older adults

in an article for The Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHÉOS), Dr. Richard (Rick) Sawatzky shared six ways how quality of life data is improving the lives of older adults.

He opened the conversation by addressing what needs to change: “Person-centred care for adults with dementia has a ways to go. More can be done to give patients a voice and to focus care on what matters most”

Having devoted his life to measuring and assessing quality of life, Dr. Sawatzky speaks from experience. He contends that the collection and use of quality of life data can have wide-reaching effects on patients, caregivers, and the health care system as a whole.

Quality of life (QoL) assessments invite patients to respond to three fundamental questions: How are you? How is your care? What matters most to you? By collecting this information, health care practitioners get immediate feedback on the success or shortcomings of their interventions. Rather than focusing only on clinical data such as lab results, brain scans, or cognitive tests, QoL data focuses on all aspects of wellbeing.

“We need to look at care from the point of view of patients themselves so that we can adapt our systems to address the priorities and concerns that matter most to them,” said Dr. Sawatzky.

He has received very positive feedback from patients with dementia using QoL assessments. “Patients understand the importance of having care built around their needs.”

Dr. Sawatzky has also demonstrated that QoL measures are valid and reliable for people who have higher levels of cognitive disfunction. “This is important because traditionally people with dementia have been excluded from QoL data,” he explains.

From early in his career, Dr. Sawatzky recognized the importance of caring for patients based on their own ideals of health and wellbeing. Gradually, he’s witnessed the idea of measuring QoL becoming more mainstream.

His work has given these types of measurements a strong methodological foundation by demonstrating that they have real value in the care of older adults, including those living with Alzheimer’s. “It’s going to take a shift in thinking to embed these things into day-to-day care,” he says. “But once that happens, our research shows that we will see improvements at both the individual and population level.”

Read the full article in CHÉOS News:

About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has five campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, Ottawa, and Bellingham, WA. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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