People in profile: Sonia Hardern

Meet Sonia—Creating the conditions for transformative change in long-term care.

Q: What is your role in health research at VCHRI?
I recently stepped into the position of Regional Practice Lead, Research & Knowledge Translation in Long-Term Care (LTC). In a nutshell, my job is to support new and ongoing efforts to improve the care and experience of all who live, visit and work in LTC homes in Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). More specifically, my role will focus on bringing research evidence to practice through the engagement of residents, families and point-of-care staff. There is a Regional Practice Lead for each health authority in BC and together we form a provincial network where best practices and ideas can be shared across the province to benefit all residents.

Q: What is your research area of interest, and what led you to that interest?
My area of interest is in enhancing quality of life in LTC and how to create culture change that allows for a shift from an institutional model to a social model of care. My interest came from my previous work with the LTC team at Providence Health Care (PHC) and working with visionary leaders who saw the need for a wholesale shift in the way we approach LTC. 

Q: What’s the best part about your job?
The people and the connections are the best parts of my job. I am fortunate in this role to be a part of three different teams: VCH Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Professional Practice Team, the provincial Regional Practice Lead Network and VCHRI. Not only do I get three different viewpoints into the health care system, but I am able to help make connections across the three groups. And I am excited at the possibilities that those connections will bring. 

Q: What does your average day at work look like?
There is a lot of sitting at my desk talking to people over Zoom at the moment, but I look forward to being able to visit LTC homes to meet and talk to the residents, their families and to work with care staff to see how we can improve the experience of LTC from all of their perspectives.

Q: What is your biggest accomplishment of your career?
Getting the phone call from the Canadian College of Health Leaders to tell me that the initiative that I had nominated for a National 3M Health Care Quality Team Award won! The initiative, called Megamorphosis, was something that I had helped initiate and co-lead while working at PHC. It aimed to improve the experience for residents, staff and families in the LTC homes at PHC. There are so many moments within that work, though, that are more important than the award itself, like the moments when I really felt I made a difference in a senior’s day and helped to improve their experience. The award represents the significance of that work and what we achieved.

Q: What do you do for fun in your spare time? 
With two young kinds, I don’t have a lot of spare time, but being able to spend time with my family going for walks in the trees, playing games or just snuggling always helps put the rest of the day into perspective. If it weren’t for them, however, I would be on a golf course.

Q: Who or what inspires or motivates you?
My kids. They surprise me everyday with their curiosity and ability to learn and retain information. I am pretty sure they will be smarter than me in no time, but until then, they inspire and motivate me to continue my own learning journey.

Q: What’s one thing we might be surprised to learn about you?
I have played in a string quartet. I played the violin as a kid and when I used to take lessons, my teacher would get four of his students together to form a quartet and perform at his annual concert. 

Sonia Hardern is Regional Practice Lead, Research & Knowledge Translation for VCHRI. She started her career as a research coordinator with the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences before taking on roles in Decision Support and Quality Improvement with Providence Health Care. For the last five years, she has co-led the Home for Us initiative with Providence Health Care’s long-term care leaders. She is dedicated to using creative methods to foster communities where residents, families and staff feel safe to work together to create change. Sonia holds a bachelor of arts in geography and a master of health administration from the University of British Columbia.


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