Road to Connection: arts-based lifeline for caregivers of people…

“We created a new program for people living with mild to moderate dementia and their spouses. Dementia can cause a real strain on relationships, so we’ve designed this program to help both caregivers and their partner with dementia find new ways to communicate. This is the first time we’ve paired an arts based program for people with cognitive challenges with a support group for caregivers. It’s important for people to know that they’re not alone and that help is available to support them through this new stage in their relationship.”

– Renee Climans, Social Worker and Therapist at Baycrest Health Sciences

The Road to Connection weaves together three evidence-based interventions into a combined model that provides an emotionally focused psychosocial group intervention for the spouses of people with dementia and a separate group which melds arts based and cognitive interventions for their partners. The ultimate goal of this program is to decrease the burden that some family caregivers feel, while increasing the quality of life for both the family care provider and the person with dementia, and decreasing premature institutionalization of people affected by dementia. Offering this innovative program has helped Baycrest clinicians increase their knowledge about evidence-based targeted interventions for people with dementia. This program was made possible with support from the Hy and Bertha Shore and Harry and Sara Gorman Award and the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation.



91-year-old valedictorian: ‘You’re never too old to learn.’

“I myself have learned a lot from the courses, I knew absolutely nothing about art before. As the saying goes, you’re never too old to learn. It was really exciting for all of us today. The only thing lacking are the spike heels the Grade 8 girls were wearing!”                                           

Eva Kurtzman, valedictorian and the oldest student(91 years old) of Baycrest learning academy

The Baycrest Learning Academy, in partnership with Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education, is one of the most popular programs at Baycrest. It brings together a variety of older adult learners who are interested in challenging themselves, and who have an appetite for intellectual pursuits. Over the past three years, students have been offered courses in archeology, philosophy, theatre, astronomy, impressionism, history, biology, cinema, neuroscience, classical music, French literature, climatology, sociology and more. The most requested classes are typically music and arts-based – subjects that resonate with Baycrest’s clients, and trigger personal past memories.




Older adults’ storytelling builds one-of-a-kind living legacy

“We think Storycare is a concept that will spread, and that other institutions and healthcare settings will try to incorporate the arts, particularly the art of storytelling and writing, into their practices. Our hope is that healthcare professionals’ daily rounds will not only include talking about the biology of their patients, but what stories they carry with them, and who keeps their stories alive if they are unable to tell them themselves.”

– Dan Yashinsky, artist-in-residence at Baycrest Health Sciences

More than 80 people gathered at Baycrest Health Sciences on Friday, December 9 for a special Storycare Symposium. The event brought together people who practice the art of storytelling, healthcare clinicians and educators, as well as older adults to talk about the idea of stories from different perspectives and to explore the use of storytelling in working with older adults in the context of healthcare. This symposium was organized in collaboration with Storytelling Toronto, a group that was founded by seven storytellers who wanted to encourage the renaissance of storytelling in modern society. Keynote speakers included Dr. Steve Sabat, a professor emeritus at Georgetown University, specializing in the subjective experience of having Alzheimer’s disease, and Mary Louise Chown, a Winnipeg-based storyteller who pioneered the use of storytelling in palliative care.


Workshop for young and old paves path to a…

“These young people are amazingly articulate. Their education went a lot further than mine and I’m learning a lot from them. They are creative, artistic and great company. These students give me great hope for the future.”

                          – Pearl, Intergenerational Institute for Entrepreneurs participant

Ten students and six seniors, ranging in age from 13 to 93, participated in a 5-day program aimed at fostering entrepreneurial skills and design-thinking this past summer. Run by the Culture & Arts department at Baycrest, the Intergenerational Institute for Entrepreneurs brought experts from across the organization together to host workshops throughout the week. Participants worked together to discuss and solve challenges based on real-world issues. The group spent the week learning and working together through dance, meditation, martial arts and discussions about intergenerational and inclusive communities. At the end of the week, groups created and presented prototypes of new community spaces to a panel of judges. Teams were awarded certificates for innovation, application of technology, forward-thinking solutions, and community vision.


Pilot program succeeds in reducing stressful emergency department visits

“Every year in Ontario, thousands of long-term care home residents are taken by ambulance to emergency departments of acute-care hospitals. In addition to the costs, clients often face delays for many hours before receiving attention. The hospital visits can also add to clients’ anxiety and discomfort, and puts them at risk for further illness through exposure to other sick patients in waiting rooms. For these reasons, this past year Baycrest piloted a program to reduce unnecessary emergency department transfers and we’ve been thrilled with the response from our staff and clients.”

– Sue Calabrese, Director of Care and Resident Experience for the Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged

Thanks to a very generous five-year pledge from the Menkes Family, Baycrest launched the Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department Transfers pilot project. The results have been impressive: emergency department transfers decreased from 21.5 visits/100 residents a year ago to 18.8 visits/100 residents over the past year. This is considerably better than the Toronto Central average for long-term care homes, which is 26.3 visits/100 residents.

On average, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care says that 30 per cent of visits to the emergency department from long-term care facilities are potentially avoidable. Baycrest is determined give focused attention to initiatives aimed at reducing this statistic.

Glee Club, Seniors, Older Adults, Baycrest, Singing, Couple, hits, Elvis, Sinatra Care

The halls at Baycrest are alive with the sound…

“When the Buddy’s Glee Club first began as a small research project in our day centre back in 2011, we had no idea how popular the club would become. Participants enjoyed singing so much, they asked us to keep it going and as the research study expanded, new Glee Clubs were created across the Baycrest campus.  Currently, there are Buddy’s Glee Clubs in the Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged, and in both day centres. Music therapists act as the conductors for each group, which allows us to customize every session for the unique needs of each group. We’ve seen many Glee Club members make new friendships and strengthen relationships with caregivers, family members and friends.”

– Kiki Chang, Music Therapist, Department of Culture and Arts at Baycrest Health Sciences

Featuring songs from the 1950s and 1960s, Buddy’s Glee Clubs have been a part of life at Baycrest for the past six years. Each week, groups of older adults with a wide range of cognitive abilities gather in recreation rooms and shared spaces at Baycrest to sing hits from artists such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and from popular Broadway musicals. Music therapists choose songs to match the moods, emotions, and memories of each group and often pause rehearsals to jump into discussions about the histories of the musicians, songs and the participants’ own histories in relation to music. This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor.

Music is a part of everyday life in other ways too. Many philanthropic families enable Baycrest to present concerts for patients, residents and their families. Thank you to Hugh Furneaux, who generously joined the group this year by sponsoring our Sunday Concert Series.


Laser walker, robotic exoskeleton improve mobility

“We are constantly testing, evaluating and investing in new innovations at the Jeff and Diane Ross Movement Disorders Clinic. Our goal is to match new technologies with our clients’ pathologies and to improve people’s quality of life. This past year, we received a research grant from the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation to develop a laser walker and we have partnered with the University of New Brunswick to test a robotic exoskeleton suit that we believe will help people with degenerative neurological conditions continue walking. We hope to develop new clinical protocols that can be used around the world to help clients walk and move independently and stave off the physical decline experienced with neurological diseases. We are extremely grateful to all of our donors and the funding agencies that allow us to create these innovative solutions for people at Baycrest, all over the province of Ontario, and Canada.”

– Pearl Gryfe, Clinical and Managing Director of the Assistive Technology Clinic and the Jeff and Diane Ross Movement Disorders Clinic

Drawing on the strength of an expert interprofessional team, the Jeff and Diane Ross Movement Disorders Clinic helps thousands of people with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders to live independently in their own homes or comfortably in assisted living communities. The clinic operates in partnership with the Assistive Technology Clinic (ATC), a recognized leader in innovative rehabilitation, and provides progressive medical and rehabilitative care and treatment and is also a source for innovative technologies to help enhance the ability to move, function and improve quality of life. ATC is funded in part by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and a number of generous donors and grants.


Smiles all around: Youth visits lead to meaningful friendships

“During each visit, our grade seven students, residents from the Apotex and patients from the hospital at Baycrest share stories and learn about each other’s traditions and shared histories. Every intergenerational group visit is different. Some weeks we play music and dance the Hora, other times we sing songs and recite prayers. Some of the residents are unable to verbalize their feelings, so they respond with smiles. The students really enjoy it and it’s clear the residents enjoy spending with younger generations.”

-Lindsay Budd, Middle School Coordinator, The Leo Baeck Day School South Campus

Grade seven students from The Leo Baeck Day School South Campus in Toronto have been paying regular visits to residents at the Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged and patients at the hospital at Baycrest Health Sciences this past year. This intergenerational program is designed to foster meaningful opportunities for students and older adults while engaging through the arts. As a result of the program, many students have expressed interest in volunteering at Baycrest on an ongoing basis.

Dance, Dementia, Baycrest, NBS, Ballet Care

Moving to the music: Taking ballet to LTC homes…

“We are shifting the culture of long term care through the arts. Our program has demonstrated that people can participate in creative self-expression and meaningful connection through dance at all levels of cognitive and physical function.  We are proud and excited to say our program is now growing beyond Baycrest, as we’re reaching out to long term care homes across the province who have adopted this model. Art based interventions are helping us keep older adults connected to opportunities for wellness, social engagement, imagination and quality of life.

-Melissa Tafler, Coordinator, Arts in Health Program, Department of Culture and Arts and Arts Based Learning Specialist, Baycrest Health Sciences

Since 2014, Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) and Baycrest have been working together to create, host, evaluate and improve dance classes for older adults. Led by a group of graduates from NBS’ teacher training program, professional dancers guide participants through a routine designed to meet the needs of older adults. This past year, NBS teachers began training to bring this program to residents at long term care homes across Ontario.

This program was made possible with support from the Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation and the Canadian Public Health Association.


House calls via telemedicine increase access to specialized care

“Mobile devices are allowing us to completely change the ways in which we diagnose and deliver care to homebound patients, while reducing wait times and improving access to health care professionals. When meeting with a client in their home, I can now take a photo on a tablet or computer and send it to a specialist with the appropriate clinical information. If a client has more in depth needs, I can even start a videoconference with a specialist and receive a recommendation within a matter of minutes. With telemedicine, consultations which may have taken weeks to schedule and complete in the past are now being done in a fraction of the time.”

-Aysha Bandali, Advanced Practice Leader, Nurse Practitioner, Integrated Community Care Team and Residential & Aging in Place, Baycrest Health Sciences

Thanks to the generous support of Toronto philanthropist Gabi Weisfeld and the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation, this past year the Integrated Community Care Team at Baycrest has been able to purchase new mobile medical devices and resources to care for homebound older adult patients with complex medical needs. These investments have allowed Baycrest to expand its integrated and inter-professional model of care, bringing meaningful clinical encounters to those in need.