Article by Laurie Weir, Smiths Falls Record News
The use of medical cannabis by seniors in long-term care facilities across Ontario is being studied by Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC) in Smiths Falls.
“The study began in October 2019 and while COVID has caused some delays with bringing on board new homes and patients, the study continues to be progressed,” said Aly-Khan Virani, communications manager at CGC. “Our aim is to enrol up to 500 patients and we expect to have enough data to present early findings in the first few months of 2021.”
Hilary Black is the chief advocacy officer at CGC. She’s responsible for community investment work and social purpose work. She said that Rosebridge Manor is one of the partnered long-term care facilities they’re working with on this project, as they study the effects of medicinal cannabis on the quality of life for residents in long-term care homes across the province.
“We need systemic access and that comes from evidence and research,” Black said.
Rosebridge Manor’s administrator Tracy Foster said they are looking forward to this study.
“The pandemic has put everything on hold right now,” Foster said.
“Before the pandemic we were ready to roll everything out as we have done most of the leg work for the project; we are ready to implement but until the pandemic settles down we won’t be able to … we are very excited to see this through.”
CANNABIS AND SENIORS
Black’s 104-year-old grandmother, Jean Black, lives with a caregiver in her home. Her grandmother has been “living her best life” thanks to the use of medical cannabis in a soft gel capsule, Black said from her home on Salt Spring Island, near Victoria, B.C.
“Every afternoon she takes a CBD and a very small amount of THC,” Black said. “She tells me that the soft gels really help with her pain — she has arthritis. She sleeps well, but her health-care workers tell me that for them it’s her mood. In the afternoon, she’s happy and kind and loving. They just have fun in the afternoon because she just feels better … She tells me that it is improving the quality of her life.”
With the cannabis study in seniors’ homes, Black said they wanted to help support their existing long-term care partners.
“We have community partners around social justice, we have community partners that we work with on a number of issues. We’re studying the utility of cannabis and cannabis medicines for pain, mood and sleep,” Black explained. “We’re running a trial to look at how cannabis can improve the quality of life for our residents of long-term care facilities.”
She said it’s an interesting study.
“It’s really focused on dose-specific safety, so looking at different ratios of THC and CBD. The dose is designed to be safe for seniors and the method of administration is oils and soft gel capsules because it needs to be administered in a form that integrate into the care practices that already exist,” Black said.
Black has been working on access to medical cannabis for 25 years now, she said. “I think our residents in long-term care facilities are one of the last populations of patients that could really have the quality of their lives potentially improved,” she said. “It’s hard to get access into a long-term care facility.”
This study will gather and publish data around “if there is utility that will improve the quality of life for our seniors in residential care.”