Lorna de Witt, RN, PhD

Research Program

My program of research centres on the care of persons living with dementia and their family members. While my doctoral research explored the meaning of living alone from the perspective of older persons with dementia, subsequent research investigated the experiences of healthcare professionals with their care. Involvement as a Co-Investigator with a six-year SSHRC funded study contributed to a shift toward exploring culture change and care of persons living with dementia in diverse long-term care settings, and the importance of relationship centred dementia care.

I am passionately committed to qualitative research, building my program of research through research questions guided by a variety of approaches, including interpretive phenomenology, participatory action research, appreciative inquiry, qualitative description, focussed ethnography, and case study.

Supervisory Capacity

I recently supervised, mentored, and supported a Masters level nursing student to successfully defend her thesis in a timely manner.  I assisted her to apply for and win two awards, including a scholarship from a national professional nursing association and an award from a local chapter of an international nursing association.

Academic Qualifications

  • Level One Certification, University Teaching Certificate Program, 2015
  • Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) Facilitator, University of Windsor, 2009-present
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population (SEDAP) Research Program, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario, 2006-2007
  • PhD, Nursing, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, 2006

Research Interests

  • Aging, dementia, and living alone
  • Culture change in diverse long-term care settings
  • Relationship-centred care
  • Qualitative research (phenomenology,  qualitative description, participatory action research, appreciative inquiry, focused ethnography

Selected Funding Highlights

Dupuis, S., (PI) de Witt, L. (Co-I), & Fortune, D (Co-I). (2014 – present). Expanding the Culture Change Work through the Partnerships in Dementia Care (PiDC) Alliance.  Sponsored Research Agreement between Chartwell Master Care LP and University of Waterloo.

Co-Principal Investigators: Dupuis, S. and McAiney, C. Co-Applicants: D’Avernas, J., de Witt, L., Goh, A., Kaasalainen, S., Ladouceur, D., LeClair, K., McWilliam, C., Ploeg, J., Ray, K., Smale, B., & Westley, F., “Partnerships in dementia care alliance: Assessing the process of culture change in diverse long-term care settings.” Funding Body: SSHRC (April 2010 – January 2016). I co-led the study at one culture change coalition site in a community setting.

For more information about this study, click here. [https://uwaterloo.ca/partnerships-in-dementia-care/]

Scholarly Contributions


Selected Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

de Witt, L., & Ploeg, J. (2016). Caring for older people living alone with dementia: Healthcare professionals’ experiences. Dementia: the International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 15 (2), 221-238. first published online 20 February 2014 as doi:10.1177/1471301214523280

Dupuis, S. L., McAiney, C., Fortune, D., Ploeg, J., & de Witt, L. (2016).  Theoretical foundations guiding culture change: The work of the Partners in Dementia Care Alliance. Dementia: the International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 15 (1), 85-105. first published online 13 January 2014 as doi:10.1177/1471301213518935

Fortune, D., McKeown, J., Dupuis, S., & de Witt, L. (2015). "It was like reading a detective novel": Using PAR to work together for culture change. Journal of Aging Studies, 34, 38-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2015.04.002

de Witt, L., Campbell, L., Ploeg, J., Kemp, C. L., & Rosenthal, C. (2013). “You’re saying something by giving things to them:” Communication and family inheritance. European Journal of Aging, 10 (3), 181-189.  doi : 10.1007/s10433-103-0262-z

de Witt, L. (2012). The “added value” of affective learning for gerontological nursing education. Perspectives, 35 (2), 12-18.

de Witt, L., Ploeg, J., & Black, M. (2010). Living alone with dementia: An interpretive phenomenological study with older women. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66 (8), 1698-1707. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05295.x

de Witt, L., Ploeg, J., & Black, M. (2009). Living on the threshold: The spatial experience of living alone with dementia (2009). Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 8, 263-291. doi: 10.1177/1471301209103273

Ploeg, J., de Witt, L., Hutchison, B., Hayward, L., & Grayson, K. (2008). Evaluation of a research mentorship program in community care. Evaluation and Program Planning, 31, 22-33. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogrgplan.2007.10.002

de Witt, L., & Ploeg, J. (2006). Critical appraisal of rigour in interpretive phenomenological nursing research. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 55, 215-229. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2006.03898.x

de Witt, L., & Ploeg, J. (2005). Critical analysis of the evolution of a Canadian nurse practitioner role. The Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 37, 116 – 137.

Teaching Interests

  • Qualitative Research
  • Aging and Health
  • Teamwork and collaboration in advanced nursing practice
  • Philosophy of science and nursing
  • Interactive and problem-based learning
  • Instructional Skills Workshop facilitation

Memberships and Community Involvement

  • Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association
  • Canadian Association on Gerontology
  • Ontario Interdisciplinary Council for Aging and Health (OICAH), University of Windsor rep
  • RNAO, The Gerontological Nursing Association of Ontario
  • Sigma Theta Tau, Tau Upsilon Chapter
  • Sample of Peer Reviewer Activity: Qualitative Health Research, Perspectives, Journal of Advanced Nursing, Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice