National Nursing Week: Touching memories
Nursing is constantly evolving, and so is nursing education.
During National Nursing Week Week, the Faculty of Health Disciplines at Athabasca University is proud to shine the spotlight on some of the many students, alumni, faculty, and researchers who work on the leading edge of nursing knowledge and practice — to improve the health of all Canadians. For more great stories, visit the FHD website.
Dr. Sharon Moore, professor in AU’s Faculty of Health Disciplines, has been one of the leading lights in gerontological nursing teaching and research for more than three decades. When she retires from AU in summer 2019, her legacy will continue in the compassionate care offered by countless alumni across Canada and beyond.
Moore has received myriad awards and honours throughout her career, and has presented more than 150 papers, workshops and keynote addresses—on hope, aging, suicide, and distance education teaching and learning—around the world. On May 4, 2019, she received an Honorary Lifetime Membership in the Canadian Gerontological Nurses Association recognizing her outstanding contribution to gerontology and gerontological nursing.
Moore has also built a robust research portfolio. Her most recent investigation centres on “touch quilts” and their potential to be simple, effective, and deeply personal ways to ease anguish and improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
In the Fall 2018 issue of the FHD newsletter, she spoke about the project and its findings.
Her preliminary findings showed that these lap-sized quilts which are intentionally designed to offer sensory experiences—and often include colourful and textured fabric, big buttons, faux fur, zippers, scraps of lace or heavy ribbon—can create paths to memories that help calm, relax, and reconnect with people living with memory loss.
“Touch quilts may have the potential to make a significant difference in people’s lives,” Moore says. “Our small study showed they could be a really simple intervention that goes a long way to improving quality of life, to reducing anguish, without the use of drugs, in the lives of our most vulnerable people.”
The experience of participating in a touch quilt project began in 2016, in close collaboration with Carol Henckel, then the Director of Care at a Calgary long-term-care facility, AU alumna Mariko Sakamoto (Master of Nursing 2016) and Joan Loomis, Chair of the MCQG Education Committee, who was the liaison with quilters from Mountain Cabin Quilters Guild (MCQG) in Canmore, Alta. The latter group was instrumental in accepting the challenge to learn about and create the quilts used for the research.