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College of Nursing Office of Research & Scholarship
Montana State University
P.O. Box 173560
Bozeman, MT 59717-3560

Tel: (406) 994-2783
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> CON Office of Research & Scholarship > Supported Projects

The Caring for Native American Elders Project



Patricia Holkup, PhD, RN
Principal Investigator

Montana State University
College of Nursing
Missoula Campus

Patricia Holkup

The Caring for Native American Elders Project has been active since 2002.  Historically, Native American elders have held unique and honored positions in their communities.  Their greater life experience, historical perspective, spiritual knowledge, and closer ties to the old ways of tribal ancestors make them a valuable resource for younger people.  Yet increasingly elder mistreatment is reported as a serious problem in Native American communities. 

This concern was voiced by a Native American community member who believed others in the community had concerns as well.  Using a community-based participatory approach, our cross-cultural team developed a project that could begin to address elder mistreatment concerns in this community.  In the spirit of reciprocity, we designed a project that would combine the collection of data with the provision of a service. 

Data have been collected through the use of interviews to learn about a) the perceived extent of elder mistreatment, b) the forms it takes, c) the current means of addressing elder mistreatment, d) the feasibility of implementing a family conference intervention, and e) the community strengths that may facilitate the implementation and sustainability of the project. 

The service component has involved the implementation of the Family Care Conference (FCC).  The FCC is a family conference intervention adapted from a model developed by the Maori of New Zealand who were concerned that western European ways of addressing child welfare issues were undermining family and community values.  Consistent with a perspective of restorative justice rather than punitive justice, the FCC provides the opportunity for family members, service providers, and a spiritual leader to come together to address elder mistreatment concerns.  This model has been readily accepted by the Native American families with whom we’ve worked because of values similar to the Maori such as the definition and meaning of family, spirituality, the use of ritual, and the value of non-interference.

Since the beginning pilot work, the project was strengthened in the first community, when we hired three community members to facilitate FCCs over the course of two years.  Subsequently, a community agency has taken responsibility for the FCC intervention.  The project has grown, in different stages, to involve two additional communities. 

Funding:  NIH/NINR P30 NR03979; NIH/NINR P20 NR07790; NIH/NINR R21 NR008528; NIH/NINR R03 NR009282; John A. Hartford Foundation’s Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Scholarship Program




Emily Matt Salois, MSW, ACSW



Tripp Reimer

Toni Tripp-Reimer, PhD, RN, FAAN
University of Iowa
College of Nursing




Clarann Weinert, SC, PhD, RN, FAAN
Montana State University
College of Nursing

View Text-only Version Text-only Updated: 1/09/06
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