A Canadian first: community-based affordable hearing care

“Our program is tailored to serve older adults with unmanaged hearing loss and consists of education and counselling around hearing and communication combined with low-cost, over-the-counter hearing devices. Only 20 per cent of those with hearing loss use hearing aids and this program will help those who have not previously sought help or who have difficulty accessing the current system.”

-Marilyn Reed, Practice Advisor for Audiology, Baycrest Health Sciences

The Toronto HEARS (Hearing Equality through Accessible Research and Solutions) project is the first Canadian community-based, low-cost, hearing rehabilitation program of its kind that will provide older adults easier access to affordable hearing care in their community.

Hearing loss is the third most common disability among older adults and is associated with declines in cognitive, physical and mental health. The average period between identifying hearing loss and seeking help is 10 years.

Baycrest’s Audiology department is partnering with community centres across Toronto to deliver and test the feasibility of Toronto HEARS, a program developed at Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The project aims to improve communication, social engagement and quality of life for seniors with hearing loss.

This program was generously funded by the Canadian Centre for Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI).


First clinically-validated, online brain health workshop

“Normal age-related memory decline can be a source of worry and frustration for many older adults. Baycrest’s Memory and Aging Program is one of the few brain health workshops for healthy older adults around the world that helps seniors take control of their memory change experience and optimize their brain health. The online Memory and Aging Program workshop will allow us to share Baycrest’s expertise to anyone with an Internet connection.”

-Dr. Susan Vandermorris, Baycrest clinical neuropsychologist and lead for the Memory and Aging Program

For more than 20 years, Baycrest’s Memory and Aging Program has helped more than 1,000 healthy older adults. It is among the few clinically-validated, gold standard brain health workshops across the globe and it will offer an evidence-based, brain-training product that has a long track record of scientific excellence.

In 2016, the Memory and Aging Program worked closely with e-learning experts, designers and program users to design an interactive, informative and practical e-learning experience.

With support from the Canadian Centre for Aging & Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI), the program is currently being tested by older adults across Canada and is expected to be validated and widely distributed this year.


Uncovering the impact of volunteer visits on thinking skills

“What I’ve learned is that each day is a day in itself, one day is different from the other. You can’t expect the residents to remember you from one day from the next but when you see that smile that they somewhat remember you or that they’re happy to see you, it really makes it worth it.”

-Sabrina Teles, volunteer with Baycrest’s PLEASE program (a person-centred care program)

Baycrest scientists and clinicians are teaming up with long-term care homes across Toronto to explore how volunteer visits could help older adults with dementia preserve or improve their thinking abilities. This work could help long-term care homes incorporate a cost-effective program to improve care for residents with dementia and create new roles for volunteers working with older adults.

More than half of long-term care home residents in Ontario have dementia and impairments to residents’ thinking abilities impact their overall health and quality of life. This project received support from The Retired Teachers of Ontario Foundation. Find out more about this work.


Baycrest launches first Canadian Brain Health Food Guide

“Our Brain Health Food Guide will help adults 50+ preserve their thinking and memory skills as they age. There is increasing evidence in scientific literature that healthy eating is associated with retention of cognitive function, but there is also a lot of misinformation out there. This guide will help older adults seeking to proactively manage their brain health through healthy nutrition.”

– Dr. Carol Greenwood, co-author of the Brain Health Food Guide and senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute

Research has found that dietary patterns similar to those outlined in the first Canadian Brain Health Food Guide are associated with decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 36 per cent and mild cognitive impairment (a condition likely to develop into Alzheimer’s) by 27 per cent.

Download the Brain Health Food Guide and start protecting your brain health today.


Mental health services go far beyond Baycrest

“The Canadian Mental Health Association, Fort Frances Branch has been contracting with Baycrest for Geriatric Psychiatry services via tele-health since September 2002 for client assessments, case consultations and educational sessions. Since that time more than 740 consultations have taken place on a weekly rotating basis in six communities in the Kenora/Rainy River District in Northern Ontario.  These sessions have benefited clients, our staff, local physicians and professionals from the service sector throughout our districts for 15 years. This partnership with Baycrest has assisted to improve mental health and help reduce inequities that many older adults and their caregivers face due to ageism, stigma, financial constraints and resource shortages in rural remote areas.”

                                                         -Tana Langtry, CMHA, Fort Frances Branch

Baycrest has recently expanded its telepsychiatry program to help people in even more communities across Ontario. Our mental health team at Baycrest has also recruited a nurse practitioner to help us serve more clients, and created a new two-day outpatient program. The Geriatric Psychiatry Community Service outreach team is now using tablets during their visits to connect clients who are at home with a psychiatrist at Baycrest during the visit.

Mental health services at Baycrest receive generous support from the RBC Foundation and the Geoffrey H. Wood Foundation.


Accolades for Family Mentor Program


Francie Kendal, the lead of the Family Mentor Program at Baycrest, receives a volunteer award from the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto for her work on the program.

“The Family Mentor Program at Baycrest was designed to help to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that many families feel when moving a loved one to a long-term care home. The Family Mentor’s role is to provide a friendly welcome, comfort and peer support to new families.  The Family Mentor will phone the family member and offer to help them navigate the Baycrest community. We are so honoured that Accreditation Canada has recognized this program as a Leading Practice.”

Janis Sternhill, Director of Volunteer Services

Visit the Baycrest’s website for more information on the Family Mentor Program.


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.