Vecova Research Services has a deep knowledge of the disability sector that provides us with considerable insight into key social issues and access to extensive resources. Our interdisciplinary team focuses on youth, mental health and aging. Dr. Stacey Kowbel is the Vecova Researcher focusing on aging.
V: What is your role at Vecova? How long have you worked at Vecova?
S: I have been a researcher at Vecova for 9 years.
V: What are the key aspects of what you do that helps improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities?
S: Everything we do in research has the goal of improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities, whether it’s identifying best and promising practices for services and supports or developing new models of support.
V: How do you see evidence based decision making helping Vecova and the people we serve?
S: There are a lot of ways that evidence based decision making helps Vecova and the people we serve. At a larger scale sector level, we do research for the government that assists in decision making at a policy level. At an organization level, there are a lot of different research techniques we use to help with evidence based decision making. One example is talking to our community to find out what services and supports are hard to find out in the community. We can take this information and look directly into our communities to find out if the services and supports are available but not marketed or if they don’t have the capacity to fill the demand. If necessary, we can recommend program development at Vecova to help fill that gap and provide assistance with that program development by looking at the best and promising practices out in the community and evaluating the program so we develop programs and services that will best meet the needs of our consumers.
V: When did you first realize that the work you do makes a real difference?
S: One of the reasons I chose to work for Vecova was because of the impact the research I do can have on the lives of people who need it the most. That’s the best part about applied, community-based research.
V: What current disability research are you following that gets you excited about the future of the disability sector?
S: One stream of research I follow is related to aging with a disability. This is still a relatively new area of research in terms of services and supports but it puts a future perspective on disability supports across the entire lifespan rather than just focusing on the here and now. It gets us thinking about what kind of support and service people will need as they age. There’s a lot of room to develop new ideas and shape what services and supports can look like taking this lifespan perspective.
V: What role do you see Vecova Research playing in the disability sector in Alberta?
S: Being the only service provider with research services, there are a lot of different roles we can play in the sector in Alberta. One of the best roles is in helping to develop innovative services and programs that help meet the growing needs of our consumers. We can use the best and promising practices in the sector and work directly with our staff and consumers to ensure they are getting the support they need. We can then take that information and share it with the sector, letting them know what’s been working for us and what things haven’t worked to help reduce the time involved in developing programs and services and put the focus on providing those programs and services.
V: What is the most gratifying part of your work as a researcher?
S: The most gratifying part of my work as a researcher is seeing my ideas and research in practice. Knowing that the work I have done is helping to improve someone else’s life is the greatest part of the job.