The age-old issue of bullying

Master of Public Health (MPH) student Denosiya Subramaniyam completed her summer practicum placement with Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA). A recipient of the Dr. James Rossiter MPH Practicum Award, Subramaniyam shares how her experience revealed a surprising underlying problem in local senior care residences.

My name is Denosiya Subramaniyam and I completed my practicum placement with SCOA in the summer of 2016.  

My role with SCOA was as a researcher, and I was assigned to a team in order to identify senior-to-senior bullying in congregate senior care residences in Saskatoon.

I chose this placement because I found the topic of adult bullying interesting. I had often heard of bullying and harassment among children and teenagers, but never considered it to be a problem in retirement homes. The assumption is that older adults would be wise enough to know better. I have an interest in research, and what better way to gain great research experience than to draw attention to an issue people do not generally realize is occurring? This is the reason I chose to do my practicum with SCOA.

To conduct this research, I began by looking into existing information on the topic to identify the types of bullying occurring and actions taken by the management of the congregate senior care residences.  The project required me to conduct a literature review, which is a meta-analysis of secondary data. I used various databases such as Google Scholar and the University of Saskatchewan library. Due to the lack of research done on this topic, it was difficult to find information through electronic sources. In order to obtain useful information, I explored non-electronic resources such as newspapers and books. From this practicum, I learned the advantage of using multiple sources of information. 

I created a questionnaire along with a consent form and delivered it to 30 randomly selected senior care residences in Saskatoon, in order to obtain data. The questionnaire was aimed at managers of the residences to determine how aware they are about bullying in their facility, and what is being done to prevent it.  After receiving the data, I organized it and created graphs to summarize the results. Finally, I submitted a final report to my field supervisor based on my findings and recommendations.  

I was grateful to be a recipient of the Dr. James Rossiter MPH Practicum Award, as the financial support allowed me to focus entirely on my practicum. As a student, I not only had to worry about the practicum tuition fees, but also daily living expenses.  Without the financial support from this award, I would have had to work during the evenings or weekends to pay for these expenses, while completing my practicum during the work week.  The award helped me to overcome these obstacles, and complete my practicum successfully.

By Denosiya Subramaniyam, MPH candidate.

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