Empowering women in innovation

In honour of International Women’s Day, Dr. Rosanne Aleong spoke with two female innovators to learn more about their work and their experiences.


Total Life’s Neelam Brar

“I started to look around and realized we do so much for helping young adults with mental health, we do so much for adolescents, but we don’t do enough for our seniors.”

This realization was the impetus for Total Life.

After moving back in with her parents during the pandemic, Neelam Brar, founder of Total Life, witnessed her parents navigate personal mental health struggles and saw the need for dedicated supports for older adults. It was, at the time, a gap in the market. Neelam set out to change that.

Total Life was created to be a resource for older adults – a one-stop shop for clients to get support and access resources covered by Medicare.

What is unique about Total Life is its fully virtual platform. Aside from the fact that online therapy has been proven to be equally as effective as its in-person counterpart, a bonus of the virtual element is that individuals can be matched with registered professionals who specialize in working with seniors; in-person therapy can be limiting due to location barriers and mobility issues.

Total Life is currently operating across the US and hopes to one day offer services in Canada. To learn more about Total Life, visit totallife.com, call 1-800-567-5433, or email info@totallife.com.


Jamboree’s Dr. Kate Dupuis

What was once a small program operating out of one site has expanded to multiple long-term care sites across Ontario, where children look forward to visiting with their adopted “grand friends” on a weekly basis.

Dr. Kate Dupuis, the Schlegel Innovation Leader in Arts and Aging at Sheridan College, is a clinician-scientist whose work lies at the intersection of arts, health, and aging. In her research, she seeks to understand how arts participation can benefit all domains of health and well-being and explores how to encourage and support creativity and self-expression across the lifespan. So, when Kate discovered the now Spark-supported Intergenerational Music Therapy Jamboree Program (Jamboree), she knew she had to get involved.

Jamboree is a purposeful music therapy program, not one that operates on a drop-in basis. Each participating resident is assessed by a music therapist to identify goals and needs, and the programming is structured to fulfill them. Therefore, it is not necessarily children’s-based program and music is selected with residents in mind. Think: Elvis Presley and the Beatles, not “Wheels on the Bus” or “Baby Shark.”

Together, the older adults and the younger participants create beautiful soundscapes. Through instruments (i.e., shakers and drums) and props (i.e. beach balls and bubbles), engaging intergenerational connections are felt by all those involved, both within and on the outskirts of the activity.

What has been extraordinary is the lasting impacts – the ones that extend beyond the one-hour session: The connections between parents in attendance, the conversations between staff and residents, the health and well-being of staff, and so on.

So, what’s next? With the CABHI’s Spark funding, Kate hopes to bring Jamboree programs across provinces and into various settings. If you’re looking to bring the Jamboree program to your site, fill out the expression of interest survey.

To learn more about Jamboree, you can visit the RIA’s website or watch Kate’s presentation at the RIA Research Rounds on March 8, International Women’s Day. Kate’s team is also going to have a virtual booth at CABHI’s upcoming summit on March 26, so if you haven’t registered yet, now is your chance!

Listen to the podcast to learn more about these extraordinary women and their work in innovation.



About the podcast

CABHI’s Community of Innovation podcast is where topics on ingenuity, aging and brain health collide. Join us as we talk to experts in healthcare, research, technology, and business, as well as older adults and their caregivers, about the innovative practices and healthtech solutions helping us all lead longer, healthier lives.

Hosted by Dr. Allison Sekuler (President and Chief Scientist at CABHI) and Dr. Rosanne Aleong (Director of Research, Innovation, and Translation at CABHI).


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