poly logo

APSS logo tag


Family, Child, Youth, and Ageing Studies Social Work and Human Service ManagementSocial Policy, Social Welfare, and Community Development

danial w.l

Chair Professor of Social Work and Gerontology & Head; Director, Institute of Active Ageing


PhD (Case Western)
MSW (Calgary)
MSocSc (HKU)





Family caregiving
Working with older adults
Immigrant & refugee Issues
Multicultural and diversity Issues
Quality of life and social determinants of health
Social policy
Social services and non-profit organizations -- management & evaluation


My URLs:


Currently not teaching any courses



Mitacs 2015 Globalink Research Internship (2015)
Killam Annual Professor, University of Calgary (07/2014-06/2015)
Distinguished Professional Award, Immigrants of Distinction Awards 2005, Calgary Immigrant Aid Society (04/2005)
Alberta Heritage Health Scholar Award, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (07/2003-06/2009)



Professor Lai joined The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in December 2015 with over 25 years of social work teaching, research, and academic administrative experience. Before entering the academy, he worked in family services, senior services, and non-profit fund raising organizations in Hong Kong and Canada. He received his doctoral degree from Case Western Reserve University, and has held faculty positions in various higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Canada. Professor Lai was Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Work of the University of Calgary between 2000 and 2005, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2005. From 2008 to 2013, he also held the position of Associate Dean for Research and Partnerships at the University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work.


Professor Lai is an internationally renowned scholar in the field of social work and gerontology, health and aging, culture and immigration, and outcome evaluation. As a prolific scholar with an impressive publication record, he has obtained numerous competitive grants as principal investigator from various “gold standard” national and international research grant councils including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In recognition of his academic contributions, Professor Lai was named Alberta Heritage Health Scholar for 2003-2009 and Killam Annual Professor for 2014-2015. He previously served as the Social Policy and Practice Section Editor for the Canadian Journal on Aging. He is currently Associate Editor of BMC Geriatrics and sits on the editorial board of Research on Aging and Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology.


Professor Lai served as board member for many major non-profit community agencies and professional organizations at the local, national, and international level, including the United Way of Calgary and the Area, Alzheimer Society of Calgary, Calgary Family Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, American Society on Aging, and Canadian Association of Gerontology. In 2008, Professor Lai also served on the Alberta Demographic Planning Commission of the Government of Alberta in Canada, overseeing the public consultation process that led to the development of the Population Aging Policy Framework in Alberta. On regular basis, Professor Lai was invited to lead research projects related to population aging and immigration for the various departments of the Government of Canada. Between 2015 and 2017, he was one of the consultants helping the Elderly Commission of Hong Kong to develop the Elderly Services Programme Plan. Currently, Professor Lai is on the Board of Directors of the American Society on Aging and Council of the Hong Kong Association of Gerontology.


Current Research Projects:

  • Lai, D. (PI). Consultancy Study on Managing the Occupational Safety and Health Challenges on Ageing Workforce in Hong Kong (Occupational Safety and Health Council, 2019-2021)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Gearing Up for Third Age & Multi-Generational Capacity Building (Lee Kum Kee Family Foundation, 2019-2022)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Study on the Effectiveness of Informal and Non-Structured Interventions for Persons with Depression (Fu Hong Society, 2019)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Positive Ageing and Happiness: IAA Happiness Courier (Wofoo Foundation, 2019-2021)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Defining Sonhood: The Exploration of Lived Experience of the Caregiving Sons in Their Late Adulthood in Hong Kong (Public Policy Research (PPR) Funding, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, 2019-2023)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Meaning Making in Dementia Caregiving among Adult Children in Hong Kong: Testing a Generation Model (General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grants Council, 2019-2021)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Resident to Resident Aggression in Residential Care Homes in Hong Kong: The Interrelationship among Resident Characteristics, Caregiving Context and the Physical Environment (General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grants Council, 2019-2021)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Individual Efforts or Intergenerational Responses? A Longitudinal Mixed Methods Study of Future Care Planning among Hong Kong Ageing Families (General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grants Council, 2019-2021)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Connecting through caregiving: Reappraising integration relationships (General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grants Council, 2018-2020) -- is this funded?
  • Lai, D. (PI). Infusion Active Ageing Education Project (Zeshan Foundation, 2018-2020)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Preventing elder mistreatment – Resilience and risk patterns of family caregivers (General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grants Council, 2018-2020) - is this funded?
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Development of New Integrated Porous Pavement Systems and Implementation of Urban Nature Labs (UNaLab) Demonstration Projects in Hong Kong (RGC Joint Research Scheme, 2017-2021)
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Understanding civic participation of aging Asian immigrants (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grants, 2017-2022)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Identifying effective approaches to reduce public opposition in the siting of Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness and Other Mental Health Facilities (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2017-2018)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Receptivity and Readiness for Cultural Competence Training for the Human Service Professions in Hong Kong (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2017-2018)
  • Lai, D. (Collaborator). Intra-group dynamics and social exclusion: Experience of Mainland Chinese immigrants to Canada (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant, 2014-2018)


Recent Research Grants:

  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Comparative review of the policy landscape on team based primary health care service delivery in Western Canada (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2013-2014)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Unspoken skills and tactics: Essentials for immigrant professionals in integration to workplace culture (Royal Bank of Canada – Investing in New Canadians Research Grant, 2012-2014)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Social work with Chinese communities: Integration of research and professional practice in a global
  • Lai, D. (Co-I). Building knowledge on determinants of health of immigrants in smaller cities: A Photovoice study (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2011-2014) context (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2012-2014)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Roles and challenges of immigrant and ethno-cultural organizations in the health system: A case in Calgary (Mount Royal University Institute for Non-profit Studies -- Applied Research Fund, 2013)
  • Lai, D. (PI). Perspectives of the business sector on social enterprise (Trico Charitable Foundation, 2011-2012)


Selected Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

  • Lai, D. W., Li, J., Lee, V. W. and Dong, X. (2019), Environmental Factors Associated with Chinese Older Immigrants' Social Engagement. J Am Geriatr Soc, 67: S571-S576. doi:10.1111/jgs.15899
  • Lai, D. W., Lee, V. W., Li, J. and Dong, X. (2019), The Impact of Intergenerational Relationship on Health and Well‐Being of Older Chinese Americans. J Am Geriatr Soc, 67: S557-S563. doi:10.1111/jgs.15893
  • Au, A., Lai, D. W., Biggs, S., Cheng, S. T., Haapala-Biggs, I., Chow, A., & Gallagher-Thompson, D. (2019). Perspective-Taking Interventions for Intergenerational Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Diseases: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Research on Social Work Practice, 1049731519864165.
  • Yan, M. C., Wong, K, & Lai, D. (2019). Subethnic interpersonal dynamics in diasporic community: A study on Chinese immigrants in Vancouver. Asian Ethnicity, 20(4), 451-468, DOI: 10.1080/14631369.2019.1613885
  • Tong, H. M., Lai, D. W. L. & Walsh. C. (2019). Formal social participation and utilization of community service among urban Chinese who live alone in Shanghai, China. Journal of Social Service Research, 45(4), 520-529, DOI: 1080/01488376.2018.1481172.
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Qin, N. (2018). Extraversion personality, perceived health and activity participation among community-dwelling aging adults in Hong Kong. PLOS One.
  • Qin, N., Lai, D. W. L., & Yan, E. C. W. (2018). Perceived victimization risk, avoidance behavior, and health of community-dwelling older adults in urban China. Aging and Mental Health, DOI: 1080/13607863.2018.1523879
  • Lai, D.W.L., Shankar, J., & Khalema, E. (2017). Unspoken skills and tactics: Essentials for immigrant professionals in integration to workplace culture. International Migration & Integration. doi:10.1007/s12134-017-0513-5
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Bai, X. (2017). Incontinence and depression in older Chinese women: The mediating effect of social participation. Health and Social Work. doi: 10.1093/hsw/hlx018
  • Lai, D.W.L., Li, L., & Daoust, G.D. (2017). Factors influencing suicide behaviours in immigrant and ethno-cultural minority groups: A systematic review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. doi: 10.1007/s10903-016-0490-3
  • Tong, H. M. & Lai, D.W.L. (2016). Social exclusion and health among older Chinese in Shanghai, China. Asian Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development.
  • Bai, X., Hung, K., & Lai, D.W.L. (2016). The role of travel in enhancing life satisfaction among Chinese older adults in Hong Kong. Ageing and Society. doi: 10.1017/S0144686X16000611
  • Bai, X., Lai, D.W.L., & Chow, N.W.S. (2016). Measuring older adults’ individual modernity: Validation of the adapted Multidimensional Scale of Chinese Individual Modernity. Sage Open, Jan.-Mar. 2016, 1-13.
  • Bai, X., Lai, D.W.L., & Guo, A. (2016).  Ageism and depression: Perceptions of older people as a burden in China.  Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 26-46.


Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters/ Entries

  • Lai D.W.L., Ou X., Daoust G.D. (2019) Quality of Care. In: Gu D., Dupre M. (eds) Encyclopaedia of Gerontology and Population Aging. Cham: Springer.
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Ruan,Y. X. (In press). When East Meets West: Revisiting Social Work with Older People in Chinese Contexts from a Community Development Lens. In S. Todd & J. Drolet (Eds). Social Work: Community Practice and Social Development. Singapore: Springer.
  • Lai D.W.L., & Fang G.B.Y. (2019) Filial Piety and Responsibilities Among the Chinese. In D. Gu, & M. Dupre (Ed.). Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging. Springer, Cham, pp. 1-4.
  • Lai, D.W.L., Daoust, G., & Li, L. (2017). Social work practice with older immigrants. In Yan, M.C., & Anucha, U. (Eds.), Working with Immigrants and Refugees: Issues, Theories, and Approaches for Social Work and Human Service Practice. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press.
  • Lai, D.W.L.(2016). Social work theories and practice models. In S. Hicks, & J. Stokes (Eds.). Social Work in Canada: An Introduction 4th (pp. 74-103). ON: Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing Inc.
  • Lai, D.W.L., & Bai, X. (2016). Social work with diverse older adults. In A. Al-Krenawi, J.R. Graham, & N. Habibov (Eds.), Diversity and Social Work in Canada. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press, Chapter 15, pp. 345-372.


Selected Research Reports:

  • Lai, D.W.L. (2019). Identifying effective approaches to reduce public opposition in the siting of Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness and other mental health facilities. A report submitted to Equal Opportunities Commission, Hong Kong.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2019). Receptivity and readiness for cultural competence training among the human service professions in Hong Kong. A report submitted to Equal Opportunities Commission, Hong Kong.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2018). A profile of immigrant and refugee seniors: literature review. A report for the Employment and Social Development Canada.
  • Lai, D.W.L. (2016, March). Social integration of immigrant and visible minority women in Canada. A report for the Citizenship and Immigration Canada.