Suvi Leppäaho (Peltola)
What is your (PACE) research about? Since January 2015 I have worked as a researcher and research coordinator for Finland on the PACE project. My current duties include translating and finalising measures as well as data collection, cleaning and analysis. Frequent visits related to data collection in long-term care facilities are also a significant part of my work. What is your background? I started my Master’s degree studies in Public Health at the University of Eastern Finland in 2008, immediately after completing my secondary education. Besides public health, I studied social work and psychology as secondary subjects. During my studies I worked as a part-time salesperson. I also received great experience while working as a trainee in the Finnish Heart Association and in my University. I got my Master’s degree in 2013 and was recruited to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). THL is a research and development institute under the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. From 2013 to 2014 I worked in the follow-up study of the implementation of the Act for Elderly Care and Services in Finland (980/2012). The main goal of the study was to measure how municipalities managed to improve their services for older people as well as to organise their services in a way that ensures the provision of long-term care mainly at home or in a home-like environment. My researcher responsibilites included the building and updating of the care unit register as well as various other tasks related to data collection and processing. What makes this job and this project interesting to you? The ongoing major changes in the social welfare and health care system and the growing number of older people in Finland increase the importance of the study subject. The significance have also been recognised in practice. Nursing staff in elderly care often report that they need information and training about end-of-life care. As a result of the PACE project, I hope we can offer this information more broadly in the future. Instead of the negative thoughts that are often associated with end-of-life care, I would rather higlight its positive sides in the conversations. It is important to remember that people live good lives before they die. One of the best sides of this job is that I am able to visit in care homes and see older people living there. Already many elements of good life are in place in care homes, but we still have work left to do in order to make the care and living conditions of older people even better. What do you want to achieve in your future (research) career? My plans for the future incude doctoral studies in Public Health or other forms of education (e.g. by completing studies in Pedagogy), as I could then work as qualified health educater. I recognise the importance of continuously updating my knowledge and skills. So far I have been very pleased with my choice of career in research. I do not see any obstacles to staying on this path. Hopefully overtime, as I gain more experience, this job will bring along more challenging tasks. How do you spend your free time? In my freetime I love to go for long walks, to work out, I also practise yoga and enjoy watching movies. Especially during the summer, I enjoy music festivals and open-air theatre. Every now and then I pack my bag and travel abroad. All these activities I enjoy best when I am with my family and friends.