Niagara College is fortunate to be the recipient of a grant of $209,576 (over two years) from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). They intend to use this grant to research healthcare access for homeless and vulnerable individuals struggling with diabetic foot problems. This opportunity will be great in a multitude of ways, one it will give students paid research positions and two it could yield healthcare improvements for marginalized patients with diabetic foot problems.
Niagara College is the new recipient of funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF). The CCSIF program, in collaboration with Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is designed to support college research projects in partnership with local community organizations to foster social innovation in areas such as education, integration of vulnerable populations, and community development.
The College intends to use this grant in partnership with its academic partners to research and improve healthcare access for individuals needing essential diabetic foot care. Further, to improve the implementation of the care by healthcare professionals at homeless shelters.
Niagara College, in collaboration with the Michener Institute of Education at the University Health Network and local community facilities and shelters, will use the Train-the-Trainer model to educate and provide awareness of diabetes. Specifically of foot-care needs for at-risk individuals. The project will also enable capacity building among other health professions typically not responsible for foot care.
So, diabetes can cause serious changes to the body that often affect the feet and toes. Also, when left untreated, can result in a limb-threatening condition. This is why it is paramount that research and treatment are effective. It’s ideal to avoid a lower-limb amputation for the patient.
“While healthcare research is not new for the College’s Community and Health Studies division, this is an exciting and innovative collaboration between the Centre for Health Wellness and Aging, and our Research & Innovation division, which has been mainly focused in the areas of advanced manufacturing, agriculture and environmental technologies, and food and beverage,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, vice-president, Research, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives. “It’s a natural fit given the College’s integral role placed on offering applied research services to all industry and community partners, while involving students in these projects.”
Project Vision – Diabetic Foot Care
To be succinct, the vision for the project is comprehensive and includes targetting pre-licensure interprofessional health students. They’ll be learning about diabetes and diabetic foot care. This will be followed by piloting a new pre-screening model of care in community shelters.
Students from diverse healthcare programs will be necessary for the initial phase of the project this September. In the following phases, students can use their placement hours. They will provide screening and addressing foot-care needs. This will be for those who are vulnerable in community partner shelters.
This is a unique project that will be beneficial to all involved partners, noted Alexandra Jackson, project manager for NC’s Train-the-Trainer program. “The outcomes of this project could change how we seek to improve healthcare education while keeping our vulnerable population’s best interests at heart,” Jackson said. “I am excited to see where this goes, and I hope we can provide both a positive healthcare and educational model that thrives for years to come.”
Niagara College is the recipient of a prestigious new grant. It will provide both work opportunities to students and innovative research to improve medicine. Diabetic foot problems are a very real issue and are exacerbated for those residing in homeless shelters and experiencing marginalization. This research seeks to address that very issue and improve the degree of care these patients receive. Thus, minimizing the number of amputations needed as a result of this disease.
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