Exploring the Nature and Impact of a Compassionate Community Initiative in an Inner-City Community: A Case Study and Participatory Journey

  • Author / Creator
    Kongats, Krystyna
  • This participatory thesis began as an exploration into the nature and impact of compassionate community approaches to health promoting palliative care using the Creating Caring Communities (CCC) initiative in St. James Town, Toronto as a case study. In the early phases of focusing my thesis, I wasn’t only interested in exploring how the field of health promotion could contribute to improving the experiences of death, dying, loss, and care. I was also motivated to engage in a research process that could facilitate change and saw this thesis as a unique opportunity to explore the nature and impact of engaging in a participatory research process. With this foundation, my thesis was structured into three cycles of action and reflection.

    In Cycle 1: Grounding, I used first-person inquiry to critically reflect on my experience initiating and building a participatory research relationship with Hospice Toronto. It was this research relationship that formed the foundation for doing research together in Cycle 2 with Hospice Toronto staff and members of the CCC initiative.

    Drawing on naturalistic case study and participatory health research approaches, the purpose of Cycle 2: The Photovoice Project was to: (i) understand how a compassionate community approach to health promoting palliative care in an inner-city setting could build community capacity to support isolated community members living with a life-limiting illness and/or their primary carer; (ii) articulate the impact of a compassionate community approach to health promoting palliative care from the perspective of those involved in the CCC initiative; and (iii) identify the facilitators and challenges of engaging in a compassionate community approach to health promoting palliative care in the context of an inner-city setting. The findings from this research underscore the significance of ‘scaffolding supports’ (e.g., organizational backbone support, focusing on the social determinants of health, and creating spaces for co-learning and connection to occur) in order to meaningfully support a compassionate community initiative. From an impact perspective, the findings from this research also draw attention to the potential for compassionate community initiatives in inner-city contexts to promote opportunities for equity in palliative care.

    Finally, Cycle 3: Ripple Impacts was the final action-reflection cycle in my thesis journey. Cycle 3 afforded an opportunity to stop and reflect on the impact of engaging in a participatory health research process during Cycles 1 and 2 from the perspective of those involved. Using a combination of first- and second-person inquiry approaches, we documented a number of ripple impacts across various ecological levels including: new professional and educational opportunities; interpersonal empowerment; new organizational linkages; and positive changes in neighbourhood perceptions of health promoting approaches to palliative care.

    By exploring my thesis experience ‘as a whole’, I was able to draw attention to parts of the participatory journey that are often underreported (i.e., relationship building) and provide a more transparent account of the messiness, but also the value, of participatory health research processes.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.