March 20, 2020 — As members of the CABHI community, we want you all to know we are thinking of you during the current public health emergency. Given the actions taken to date to limit the impact and spread of COVID-19, it is clear that it cannot, and should not, be business as usual.
Wherever possible, CABHI staff are working offsite, supporting the principle of social distancing, maintaining interactions with each other and with all of our stakeholders virtually. We are confident that the systems we have in place will enable the continuation of CABHI’s work, and we will strive to provide timely responses to all queries. We already have successfully virtualised in-person meetings and events, including our annual What’s Next Canada innovation conference and our Seniors Advisory Panel (SAP). What’s Next Canada took place as planned on Wednesday, March 11 as a real-time virtual meeting, with keynote speakers, panelists, and attendees joining in from around the world (see our recent blog recapping the meeting here). This week, CABHI’s SAP met virtually for the first time, providing both an opportunity for SAP members to connect with one another, despite their social distancing, and to provide valuable advice to innovators. SAP is excited to continue with this virtual approach, and their experiences provide valuable learnings for us as we transition toward our goal of a million-person Lived Experience Advisory Panel.
Despite these recent successes, we do anticipate that some aspects of our work may be delayed due to the continuously evolving situation and increased demands on our staff related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will work with project teams to assess and address any potential impacts to scope, timelines, and budget, and we will do our best to provide flexibility in the coming weeks and months. As a first step, we have modified our Eligible Expense Guidelines in light of the travel restrictions enacted in Canada and abroad. In particular, project teams that have incurred cancellation costs associated with modifying existing travel plans or knowledge translation activities will now be considered eligible project expenses. If you have a specific question or concern about your project, please contact your CABHI project lead.
The health and well-being of our staff, innovators, test site project members, community users, advisors, and the older adults and caregivers we all serve, is of paramount priority for us. CABHI remains committed to advancing our mission — to create a world in which all older adults, especially those impacted by dementia, can live their lives to the fullest through the development, validation, spread, and scale of aging and brain health solutions. To that end, we currently are reviewing our portfolio of solutions to determine which might be of most immediate use for older adults in need during the current health crisis. Those solutions include not only innovations to enable virtual care and enhance communication across care teams, but also innovations that provide comfort and engagement to older adults living increasingly isolated lives, whether in the community or in long term care homes.
We are proud of innovations in the CABHI family like ArtontheBrain, which now is being made available for free to individuals across Canada. If there is a solution you have created or tested that you think would be of particular use to individuals at this point in time, please let us know. We will do our best to work with you to ensure it gets into the hands of the people who need it the most as quickly as possible. Solutions that require little training, are easy to install/adopt, and have reduced costs during the pandemic are particularly needed now.
In the coming weeks, we will arrange meetings with our stakeholders to identify key needs in the community, and connect innovators and companies with groups to meet those needs as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you have an idea of how we, as a collective group, can improve the lives of older adults at risk for and living with dementia, and their caregivers, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. For general questions, concerns, or ideas, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to continuing to work with all of you to address the needs of innovation in aging and brain health. That work may be virtual now, but the impact each and every one of you makes is very real.
Allison Sekuler, Managing Director, CABHI