Building Bridges


Heather MacLeod is fired up about her new job as the Centre of Excellence’s (CoE) Knowledge Translation Specialist.

“In this role, I’ll be able to apply everything I’ve learned—and continue to learn—about improving quality of life for Seniors and Veterans living with frailty,” she says.

Prior to joining the CoE, Heather worked with the Regional Geriatric Program of Eastern Ontario for more than two decades in a variety of roles. As a geriatric assessor for 15 years, she met one-on-one with seniors to identify and implement ways to maximize their quality of life. As team leader for six years, she supervised other assessors and shared what she’d learned. She then served as knowledge translation specialist for 18 months, training clinicians and implementing best practices to provide better care both locally and provincially.

“Unfortunately, ageism is so rampant in our society that most of the seniors I worked with had internalized it,” she says. “Many mistakenly believed that their quality of life should diminish simply because of advancing age. But there’s no reason to think that way and there’s more and more evidence to prove it.”

Heather’s new role involves knowledge mobilization, a relatively new but rapidly growing and increasingly important discipline. Knowledge mobilization aims to ensure that relevant information and research lead to better practices and policies. The surest way to improve the health and well-being of Veterans and Seniors living with frailty is to broadly implement evidence-based best practices in care. To achieve this goal, Heather must establish and strengthen the links between research and practice.

“In the field of medicine, these links are well-established,” she says. “Once a surgical procedure or drug regimen is proven to inspire better health outcomes, for instance, it’s widely shared among doctors, and patients benefit. When it comes to the care of people living with frailty, however, the links are few and far between.”

Heather has both the practical and academic credentials needed to succeed. She earned a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, two Bachelor of Science degrees and is currently working toward a doctorate in health leadership and rehabilitation.

“Heather’s knowledge, experience and passion really set her apart from the other candidates we considered,” says CoE Director Danielle Sinden. “We’re delighted to have her here.”

Heather recognizes that thanks to donors the CoE and Perley Health have all the elements needed to make a tangible difference in the care of Canada’s rapidly growing population of Veterans and Seniors living with frailty.

“Perley Health values and supports innovation, and benefits from strong donor support,” she says. “Improving people’s day-to-day lives has always inspired me in my work. I feel that this is exactly where I need to be at this point in my life.”