Spark 2019 Projects

A community-driven and Elder-led health and wellness program for Indigenous seniors in the NWT
Project Lead: Sangita Sharma
Host Organization: University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
Through an engaging, culturally relevant, Elder-led training program for caregivers and seniors, this project aims to support positive health outcomes for Indigenous seniors. The program aims to enhance seniors’ and caregivers’ knowledge regarding nutrition and physical activity, optimal use of services for managing chronic conditions, and resources to improve navigation of healthcare services.

A Hospital Without Walls – Remote Patient Monitoring Reinvented for Aging at Home
Project Lead: Paul Young
Host Organization: Health PEI, PEI
The project, a collaborative effort between acute care, primary care, home care and geriatrics, explores a new use of remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology. The intent is to assist frail seniors living with/without dementia in Prince Edward Island to age at home longer by coordinating timely interventions to reduce emergency department trips and hospital admissions, and increase quality of life for patients and their families.

ABLE-Music: Movement-Music Interactions to Engage Older Adults with Cognitive Impairments
Project Lead: Alexandra Papaioannou
Host Organization: Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, ON
This project will develop and provide a music-and-movement experience (ABLE-Music) to promote social interaction and physical activity. As older adults move, they create music via wireless infrared sensors. ABLE-Music aims to decrease restlessness, boredom, and disruptive behaviours experienced by older adults with cognitive impairments, while increasing movement and enhancing mood. It also provides a meaningful interaction for caregivers and family members, which can help relieve stress and care burden.

Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow

Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow

ACCCE: Advancing Cultural Competency and Clinical Expertise for caregivers of LGBT2SQ older adults with dementia
Project Lead: Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow
Host Organization: Hebrew Rehabilitation Center/Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA
This project aims to implement and evaluate the efficacy of online learning modules that specifically promote inclusivity and responsiveness to the unique needs of LGBT2SQ older adult patients and residents, including those living with dementia. An in-person training module will also be developed, focused specifically on the unique care needs of LGBT2SQ older adults living with dementia. The program’s impact on staff’s ability to provide a welcoming and expert care environment for LGBT2SQ older adults and families will be evaluated.

Accelerating memory training for people with moderate to severe memory impairment
Project Lead: Brandon Vasquez
Host Organization: Baycrest, Toronto, ON
This project involves the development and testing of a mobile application that will help brain injured individuals and older adults with memory problems use their smartphone as a memory aid. This application will improve the efficiency of Baycrest’s established Memory Link program by accelerating the learning of new device skills and by improving access to this healthcare resource for those aging in remote and/or rural settings. Importantly, this project will also support aging at home and enhance cognitive health in older adults through tangible improvements in day-to-day memory function.

Aging in place: using engaging and socially interactive pedalling to activate older adults awaiting discharge
Project Lead: Julie Gilbert
Host Organization: Humber River Hospital, Toronto, ON
This project will be adapting and evaluating the “Physical Centivizer” solution that helps older adults regain physical and cognitive abilities that often decline during their hospital stay. The focus will be on enhancing social engagement and interaction to motivate older adults and persons with dementia to get more exercise, preparing them for their next care phase. Reactivating patients in this way can also increase their ability of being discharged to their desired setting, which improves aging in place, cognitive health, and independence of older adults.

Annual Fitness Appraisal Database Tracking of Modifiable Risk Factors for Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults
Project Lead: Joseph B. Orange
Host Organization: Western University, Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, London, ON
This project will expand capabilities of an annual fitness appraisal database (specifically the Healthy Active Living Database, called HAroLD) to develop a solution that identifies modifiable risk factors for dementia and creates a “risk profile.” This will form the foundation for point-of-care workers to coach individuals on how to reduce risk factors for developing dementia using resources available in their community.

Artificial Intelligence for the detection of anomalous events in long term care
Project Lead: Andrea Iaboni
Host Organization: Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, ON
This project will use artificial intelligence to identify events that are “out of the ordinary” such as falls or episodes of agitation recorded in surveillance videos recorded in shared living spaces. Using anomaly detection algorithms, the computer will learn to “watch” the video and alert staff to respond quickly to support the care of older adults with dementia and cognitive impairment.



Artificial Intelligence That Supports Independent Living for Older Adults Living at Risk in the Community: The ‘MySense’ Solution
Project Lead: Anne Max
Host Organization: Baycrest, Toronto, ON
This project will assess the ability of MySense to improve the overall quality of life and independent living options for older adults in the community and their caregivers, and to support aging in their preferred place of residence. MySense is a wellbeing analytics platform supported by artificial intelligence (AI) that uses passive sensors installed around the home, a wearable wristband, and sleep belt, to identify and alert caregivers to subtle changes in behaviour that may represent a concerning health issue. An equally significant component will be to incorporate MySense data as a new source of information about client well-being.

Can the use of a Virtual Reality Simulator reduce the need for sedation in seniors requiring an MRI (RELAX)
Project Lead: Ronald Heslegrave
Host Organization: William Osler Health System, Brampton/North Etobicoke, ON
This project will conduct a pilot study to evaluate the use of the Virtual Reality Emma Rye™ Simulator with seniors who require MRI. To address anxiety and diminishing cognitive capacity in older adults and people living with dementia, this simulator will expose older adults with increased anxiety and/or cognitive decline to the MRI environment prior to their MRI diagnostic testing. Outcomes will assess their need for sedation, image quality,  their perception of the realism of the Simulator compared to their experience, any potential benefit they derived from this exposure, and whether this exposure would have reduced any need for sedation – thereby eliminating unnecessary risk of sedation exposure in seniors.

Care Team Digital Communication
Project Lead: Meghan Richardson
Host Organization: CapitalCare, Edmonton, AB
The goal of this project is to trial the use of a digital screen to communicate resident care needs, preferences, and best practices in an area accessed by the long-term care interdisciplinary team. Using screens to increase the translation of important care information to our interdisciplinary team members is a solution that will support formal caregivers in caring for older adults living with dementia in long-term care. This method of communication may improve consistency in care by providing the care team with up to date and person-centred care information.

Caregiver-Centred Care: Competency -based Education for the Health Workforce
Project Lead: Jasneet Parmar
Host Organization: Covenant Health Network of Excellence in Seniors’ Health and Wellness, Edmonton, AB
This project will develop six caregiver-centered care education modules that will give healthcare providers the baseline knowledge and skills required to support family caregivers of older adults in all health settings. Through education modules, trained healthcare providers will be able to help family caregivers of seniors and people living with dementia to navigate resources, receive timely referrals, and support aging in place, thereby reducing caregiver stress and improving their well-being.

Clinic Link – Embedded Alzheimer Society Consult as part of the Clinical Visit for Persons With Dementia
Project Lead: Deana Huntsbarger
Host Organization: Kawartha Centre, Peterborough, ON
This project aims to offer a more coordinated, integrated, and seamless connection to the Alzheimer Society via an on-site referral at the time of a dementia diagnosis. The connection will help ensure that people living with dementia and their care partners view the Alzheimer Society personnel as part of their care team. The goal is to demonstrate earlier uptake of Alzheimer Society services to help to increase preparedness of care partners for the dementia disease process.

Clinical data, Natural language pRocessing and eYe tracking for dementia risk stratification (CANARY)
Project Lead: Thalia Field
Host Organization: University of British Columbia, BC
This project is developing and testing a pragmatic, multimodal strategy for risk stratification of potential participants for clinical trials of disease-modifying strategies in dementia. Our machine-learning algorithm processes language and gaze data alongside clinical information to risk-stratify individuals. Our painless, portable, and affordable strategy for risk stratification using AI will help people plan for the future, improve their memory health sooner, and will also accelerate and streamline trials of disease-modifying treatments for dementia.

Co-creating a Virtual Community Care Hub to Support Seniors Aging at Home
Project Lead: Howard Abrams
Host Organization: UHN OpenLab, Toronto, ON
This project aims to build a virtual community health hub for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) that integrates active and assisted living activities with advances in virtual medicine by working directly with seniors, their families, and healthcare providers. Providing healthy living activities with monitoring and treating seniors in their own building has the potential to reduce 911 calls, trips to the emergency department, hospital bed usage, and admissions to long-term care beds. The result will be improvement in quality of life for older adults and their ability to “age in place”.

Community Greenhouse for Older Indigenous Adults: Supporting Cognitive Health
Project Lead: Carrie Bourassa
Host Organization: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK
Guided by Elders and Knowledge Keepers, this project aims to build a community greenhouse and garden that will be utilized by residents to grow their own produce. The community greenhouse will have many benefits for participating older adults and persons living with dementia, including increased food security, learning and sharing of knowledge, engagement with nature, restorative health and well-being, and social inclusion.

Community Partners in Action
Project Lead: Wendy Evans
Host Organization: Wolf Creek Primary Care Network (WCPCN), AB
The community of Innisfail recognizes the importance of supporting people living with dementia to live well and age in place with more choice and opportunity. As an early adopter of the Dementia Friendly Toolkit, a Dementia Friendly Community Coordinator will be secured to support healthy aging by bridging the health and social system gap, work towards destigmatizing dementia and build community resilience through knowledge mobilization and early access to resources. Our commitment is to support rural Albertans living with dementia to age in place with dignity, foster inclusivity, and invest in the wellness of their care partners.

Community-based respite care: Training caregivers and family to provide in-home care for Indigenous older adults living with dementia
Project Lead: Carrie Bourassa
Host Organization: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK
This project aims to develop a toolkit for caregivers of people living with dementia and their families to improve care of seniors and relieve caregiver stress by increasing their access to resources and supports. The toolkit will consist of training modules to help guide caregivers and their family members through the stages of dementia to understand strategies for care, resources available to caregivers, links to caregiver training videos, and resources specific to Indigenous cultures and communities.

Deprescribing Initiatives using Community Engagement and Education (DICEE)
Project Lead: Barbara Farrell
Host Organization: Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, ON
This is a community-based project which aims to support and facilitate conversations between older adults, their caregivers, and their healthcare providers about better management of their medications including when to continue or stop medications. Centred around a series of interactive and educational events, this programming will allow older adults to more confidently navigate decisions about their medications, and improve their quality of life by living with more independence for longer.

Desktop Driving Simulator For Cognitive Training & Testing
Project Lead: Ken Seergobin
Host Organization: University of Western Ontario, London, ON
To prolong driver independence in the early stages of dementia, this project aims to develop a desktop-based driving simulator as a platform for broad cognitive training, driver rehabilitation, measuring cognitive functioning, and a benchmark of on-road driving skill. Data within this context may be used to assess and train patients while providing deeper insight for clinicians who must render decisions on fitness-to-drive.



Developing a gamified assessment tool to estimate physical and cognitive decline in older adults living in nursing homes
Project Lead: Charlene Chu
Host Organization: University Health Network, Toronto, ON
MouvMat is an exergaming system that can promote daily physical activity and is designed for residents for use in institutions like nursing homes. This project aims to design and develop an analytical software engine for MouvMat in order to conduct gamified validated cognitive and physical assessments. The software will be able to measure, analyze, and assess performance variables, detecting cognitive or physical decline in a way that does not burden staff, and flags the initiation of more in-depth assessments and timely interventions. These findings will be part of a solution that can serve as a method to encourage physical and cognitive health through movement for older adults and people living with dementia, as well as a clinical assessment tool.

Developing a response system for caregivers of persons with cognitive impairment using a home-based sensing and computing system
Project Lead: Neil Thomas
Host Organization: Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, ON
This project will create a system that can provide real-time notifications to caregivers of older adults with cognitive impairment. The study will identify outcome measures that are most useful as feedback regarding level of care, evaluate the best method to provide that feedback, and develop the system that will provide this information to caregivers.

Developing an at-home sensor system to detect social isolation and functional decline in high-risk older adults in the community
Project Lead: Charlene Chu
Host Organization: University Health Network, Toronto, ON
The primary aim of this project is to develop a clinically validated sensor system to assess changes in social isolation and physical function in older adults (OAs) following discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. This project is the first step to building a scalable sensor system that can collect and assess social and physical aspects of OAs and people living with dementia in the community, which will ultimately support cognitive health and aging in place.

Development and Validation of MedRevCiD: A Medication Review Tool to Assess Medication Use in Cognitive Impairment and Dementia
Project Lead: Tejal Patel
Host Organization: Centre for Family Medicine Family Health Team, Kitchener, ON
This solution is a medication review tool, the MedRevCiD, that can be used by pharmacists to assess medication-related problems frequently encountered by individuals with cognitive impairment and/or dementia. This project will assess the tool’s accuracy and user experience, and ensure it is applicable, feasible, and sustainable in practice.

Development of a new technological solution to improve nocturnal supervision of persons with dementia in retirement home settings
Project Lead: Frank Knoefel
Host Organization: Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, ON
This project will deploy sensors and smart lighting to retirement home residents to reduce the risk of falling, notify staff that an at-risk resident has left their bed, and notify staff if the risk of a fall having happened is high. Development of this system should improve the nocturnal safety of persons with dementia (PWD) in retirement homes directly benefitting the residents, care providers, families, and ultimately the health system.

Toronto Hears project lead Marilyn Reed demonstrates her innovation

Audiologist Marilyn Reed, Baycrest

Enhancing clinical visibility of hearing loss in older adults using in-office screening in a memory clinic
Project Lead: Marilyn Reed
Host Organization: Baycrest, Toronto, ON
Hearing loss has been identified as a leading potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia and yet goes largely untreated in older adults. This project will assess the feasibility of using a brief, automated hearing screening test in a memory clinic to enhance awareness of hearing loss and increase the rate of referral to audiology. This project aims to address some of the main barriers to help-seeking in older adults with hearing loss, namely lack of awareness of the existence and degree of loss, confusion of symptoms with cognitive loss, and low rate of referral to audiology by geriatric care physicians, thereby improving access to hearing care for older adults and people living with dementia.

Exploring the benefits of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy as a tool for chronic disease self-management for Persons Living With Dementia
Project Lead: Kristin Collins
Host Organization: North York General Hospital, Toronto, ON
This project aims to implement a group-based therapy that will be offered to those with mild to moderate dementia in order to provide cognitive health benefits that may improve self-efficacy of chronic disease self-management. The project goal is to provide innovation in the field of dementia self-management that will be assessed through a variety of qualitative standardized rating scales at both pre- and post-intervention with participants. By providing early intervention that is known to improve cognitive health, we hope to see improved self-management skills and hope of those living with dementia.

Exploring the relationship between nocturnal bed occupancy, breathing, and cognitive decline using pressure sensitive mats
Project Lead: Rafik Goubran
Host Organization: Carleton University, Ottawa, ON
This project will test and analyze a pressure-sensitive mat that will allow improved night-time bed monitoring of older adults with cognitive decline. Objective sleep data would help determine treatment plans that could affect cognitive impairment in older adults and would allow the monitoring of the impact of interventions, such as sleeping aids and CPAP.

Family-centered information for caregivers
Project Lead: Sarah Beihse
Host Organization: Victoria Hospice, Victoria, BC
This project aims to develop two accessible information sources for informal caregivers of older adults and persons living with dementia at end of life. Info-flip pocket guides and an app will summarize important topics and will be linked to local available resources. Informal caregivers will be supported through reliable and readily accessible information about end-of-life care for older adults and people living with dementia. This looks to improve the ability to provide care in the home setting, helping to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and contribute to informal caregivers’ own well-being.

GERAS to Go: An online platform to age well and wisely
Project Lead: Alexandra Papaioannou
Host Organization: GERAS Centre, Hamilton, ON
This project aims to develop an experiential online platform with peer motivational coaching and participant materials that is scalable to expand the GERAS to Go program (unique aging workshop series) across Canada. This motivational coaching will enable older adults to make proactive decisions that help them stay healthier, happier, and social for longer through modules that discuss healthy aging, nutrition, and fitness, among other resourceful topics for them and their caregivers.

Heart in Mind:  Changing the Culture of Dementia Care in the Home
Project Lead: Brandi D’Souza
Host Organization: VHA Home HealthCare, Toronto, ON
This project will refine and teach a nurturing approach to providing care to older adults with dementia that interweaves a person-centered care philosophy with activation therapy activities in a home care environment, thereby enhancing the relationships and interactions between the person living with dementia and their informal and formal caregivers. This approach supports aging in place by addressing the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental needs of clients living with dementia in their homes, and ensuring they are active participants in their own daily lives. An individualized approach has been shown to improve client well-being, communication between persons living with dementia and their families, reduced falls, decreased use of psychotropic medications, and a reduction in frequency/severity of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD).

HeartWatch Pilot – Feasibility of broad use of a novel method of preventing dementia from stroke
Project Lead: Paul Dorian
Host Organization: St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, ON
Many people suffer vascular dementia without knowing they had a stroke, since the regions of the brain responsible for language and mobility may not be affected. The HeartWatch is a low cost, non-invasive, long-term, and continuous method of detecting and recording heart rhythm data without the need for adhesive electrodes, wearer intervention, or complex monitoring systems. The goal of this project is to explore the technology’s ability to enable prompt detection of Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and timely medical intervention to prevent stroke, and subsequent dementia. This technology can potentially help prevent the development and/or enable management of dementia since blood-thinning medications that are proven to reduce the development of dementia can be promptly prescribed when abnormalities are identified.

High Intensity Exercise Programs for Seniors with Middle to Late Stage Dementia
Project Lead: Deborah Hawkins
Host Organization: SE Health, Greater Toronto Area, ON
This project is creating exercise programs for residents in long-term care living with dementia to help them maximize their potential, as well as improve access to rehabilitation for older adults. A series of exercise circuits will be developed that can be run in any long term-care home across Canada, with training material for frontline staff to engage those living with dementia in exercise programs.

Implementation of a remotely supervised exercise program for healthy aging in rural communities for adults with brain injury
Project Lead: Jennifer O’Neil
Host Organization: Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, ON
This project aims to improve accessibility of physical rehabilitation care for adults in rural and remote communities by identifying barriers and facilitators for implementation. Implementing a remotely supervised home-based exercise intervention could positively impact older adults’ cognitive health, physical well-being, improve social participation, and provide access of care while targeting the goals of aging in place.

Implementing an automated clinical surveillance tool in a rural hospital to screen for unmet palliative needs in the final year of life
Project Lead: James Downar
Host Organization: Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, ON
This project will implement and evaluate a computer application that uses electronic health record data to identify people with increased risk of death in the coming year, and prompts clinical teams to assess and address unmet palliative needs. Implementing this tool in hospitals has the potential to improve care at end of life, especially for those with frailty and dementia.

Improving Access to Dementia Friendly Resources
Project Lead: Dean Henderson
Host Organization: The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, Ottawa, ON
This project aims to create an application that helps caregivers, healthcare providers, and people living with dementia improve their ability to find and access local resources that are “dementia-friendly.” With this application, caregivers and people living with dementia will be able to search for what is available in their area, at times most convenient for them, and know these resources can be trusted.

Increasing Self-Care Behaviours in Family Caregivers with a Rewards-based Health Behaviour Change System (BestLifeRewarded Innovations)
Project Lead: Elaine Kohn
Host Organization: Baycrest, Toronto, ON
This project partners Baycrest social workers with BestLifeRewarded system to support adherence of self-care behaviours of family caregivers, especially of people living with dementia.  The goal is to assess its uptake and efficacy. Caregivers that utilize this program are expected to have an increase in self-care behaviours, leading to better outcomes for themselves and their care recipients.

Intergenerational Music Therapy to Address Caregiver Burden in Long Term Care
Project Lead: Carrie Perkins
Host Organization: Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, Waterloo, ON
This project will build on pilot investigations by our team into the benefits of intergenerational music therapy on residents and caregivers in long-term care. In the current work, we will attempt to address caregiver burden by improving the personal expressions experienced by older adults living with dementia. The project includes an examination of whether caregiver burden and job satisfaction of formal caregivers improves as a result of this innovative point of care music therapy program.

Maintaining Independence and Quality of Life in Aging Adults through Targeted Cognitive Training
Project Lead: Katryna Koenig
Host Organization: Watson Centre Society for Brain Health, Burnaby, BC
This project will assess a program that is designed to improve quality of life and functional ability by providing preventative care through a systemized approach to help improve cognitive capacity once decline has begun in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). By enhancing the cognitive function of aging individuals with MCI, the program can improve and extend the lives of older adults at home, delay the onset of dementia and increase functional-independence-related outcomes. Additionally, aging adults living with MCI will be able to maintain their independence and delay their need to access the medical system, which in turn supports caregivers of the aging population.

Memory Care Experience Stations for assisted living memory care community
Project Lead: Robert Sarison
Host Organization: San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, San Francisco, CA
This project is building memory care experience stations for people living with dementia to create an immersive sensory experience that will facilitate reminiscence, evoke pleasure and stimulate cognition. Through the integration of cutting-edge technologies,  the stations will offer a wide range of interactive themes, environments, and engagement in preferred activities, enabling residents and their care partners to share positive moments and for residents to have enhanced quality of life and maintain their best abilities to function.

Multicultural Inter-generational Dementia Friendly Community Choir
Project Lead: Dorothy Leclair
Host Organization: Burnaby Seniors Outreach Services Society, Burnaby, BC
Led by a certified music therapist, this project aims to bridge diverse communities and ages to reduce stigma and increase understanding of dementia through the universal language of music. Choir members will be recruited from members of the community living with dementia, members of our multicultural communities living with dementia, and youth. Participation has the potential to reduce social isolation, anxiety, stress, and depression, and can improve cognitive stimulation and physical health for both persons living with dementia and their caregivers.

Neighbourhood Time: A new approach to Recreation and Leisure for Increased reach and impact
Project Lead: Sherry Schaefer
Host Organization: CapitalCare Foundation, Edmonton, AB
This project will support formalizing a curriculum and rollout process for Neighbourhood Time, a leisure support program that empowers older adults to choose leisure activities which reflect the unique interests, skills, and life stories of each individual, thereby creating opportunities to exercise self-determination, independence and growth. The intent is to better reflect the needs of persons living with dementia, enabling them to do things that they did at home which are familiar and meaningful to them.

Neighbours: Care Teams + Community = A New Approach to Address Loneliness in Older Adults
Project Lead: Jan Pearce
Host Organization: Evergreen Hospice, Markham, ON
This project will inform the development of a point-of-care model to identify and guide the design of interventions to address loneliness within seniors and hospice patients with or without dementia. Clinical teams partnered with community and volunteers will address unmet physical, mental, social and spiritual needs, build new forms of social capital, contribute new evidence to prevent or delay dementia, and improve the quality of life for older adults and their care providers.

Novel assessment tool to measure behavioural symptoms of dementia
Project Lead: Yael Goldberg
Host Organization: Baycrest, Toronto, ON
This project’s main objective is to validate the Baycrest Behavioural Assessment System (BBAS) tool for identifying and tracking responsive behaviours, such that it can be used reliably for dementia care and research, and be shared with the wider community. BBAS has the potential to reduce point-of-care workload and provide evidence-based data to facilitate treatment interventions as it allows rapid, accurate, and timely adjustments that optimize care.

Nursing Home Simulation Training Tool
Project Lead: Julie Weir
Host Organization: New Brunswick Continuing Care Safety Association, Fredericton, NB
This project will develop an engaging and marketable training tool that enhances frontline caregiver skills in a nursing home setting that will integrate worker and resident safety with quality care. Employees will work through real case scenarios using virtual reality and artificial intelligence technology to create behaviour changes such as empathy building, experiencing consequences (responsive behaviours to unmet needs), and developing mindfulness. This form of education aims to improve the skills and confidence of caregivers in a nursing home setting as well as the quality of care for older adults and people living with dementia.

Person-Directed Continuing Care: Implementation of a virtual world to promote personhood for people living with dementia and care partners
Project Lead: Ashley Penton
Host Organization: Northwood, NS
This project will focus on assessing Deva World (DW), a new simulated virtual world co-designed for and with people living with dementia and their families to play in a collaborative “dementia-friendly” game-based therapeutic environment at home. Use of this tool will promote person-directed care planning and delivery, informed by the collaborative input of people living with dementia and their care partners. This project aims to enhance well-being by evoking moments of happiness, memories, and connections, and to effectively re-engage those living with dementia and their families back into a self-directed care planning circle that amplifies personhood and well-being.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa

Dr. Carrie Bourassa

Practicing Brain Health Through Traditional Teachings and Arts
Project Lead: Carrie Bourassa
Host Organization: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK
Addressing the need for increased opportunities for social interaction for Indigenous people living with dementia, specifically those in Indigenous communities based in traditional ways and culture, this project will develop workshops for those adults and their caregivers to engage in traditional activities (i.e. games, arts and crafts, prayer with smudging, dance and songs, food, story sharing, etc.). These workshops will create opportunities for social interaction as well as help older people increase brain function.

Shine a Light on Dementia: Caregiver Training Program
Project Lead: Mildred Ongoma-Olupeya
Host Organization: Yukon Government – Continuing Care Division, YT
This project targets family caregivers and other frontline workers providing care for people living with dementia. It aims to equip them with knowledge and skills on understanding of dementia, support services available, how to navigate the system in getting them placement as well as the legal and financial obligations that comes with it.

SmART aging: A community-engaged program supporting healthy aging through arts and technology
Project Lead: Mariel Parcon
Host Organization: Western Health, Western NL
This project is developing a community-based arts program that aims to help maintain and improve cognitive fitness for older adults with mild to moderate frailty or mild to moderate cognitive decline. Older adults will be provided the opportunity to stay socially connected through in-person or virtual participation in arts-based activities to lessen the risk of developing dementia, maintain cognitive health, promote engagement and fulfillment, and improve overall quality of life.

Staying Connected: Using Technology to Support Healthy Community Living for Persons Living with Dementia
Project Lead: Sandra McKay
Host Organization: VHA Home HealthCare, Toronto, ON
This project is focused at evaluating the existing features of LocateMotion, an analytics system that enables monitoring to address potential harm resulting from wandering incidents involving PLwD.  It is important to understand what type of devices patients with cognitive decline prefer and at what stage of decline they should be implemented. This proactive technology can create a sense of security and safety on the part of the caregiver to encourage independence, physical activity and engagement in the community without additional stress and worry. This solution can help pave the way for improving physical and psychological wellness of PLwD and their caregivers, delaying and/or preventing institutionalization related to critical wandering events.

Systematically applying a prognostication tool (RESPECT) to improve end-of-life conversations and decision making in the community
Project Lead: Peter Tanuseputro
Host Organization: Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, ON
In partnership with Champlain Home and Community Care, this project will implement and evaluate a web-based tool that enables caregivers of people with dementia (PWD) to identify those with the greatest risk of further health decline. We will evaluate if the platform generates meaningful health projections, and if implementation of this tool can improve end-of-life discussions, reduce hospitalizations, and increase a person’s time living at home.

Tamaduni Connect: Connecting ethnocultural seniors with companions of similar background
Project Lead: Sharon Kiptoo
Host Organization: Beacon Hill Villa, Victoria, BC
This project will develop a web app, Tamaduni Connect, for seniors and their families that enables them to locate companions and residential care facilities with compatible cultural perspectives. Matching culturally compatible companions provides a level of support that fosters independent living and aging in place versus requiring the senior, especially one living with dementia, to adapt to unfamiliar ways.

Using Artificial Intelligence Technology to Prevent Older Adults Living with Dementia from Going Missing
Project Lead: Mabel Ho
Host Organization: Yee Hong Centre For Geriatric Care, Greater Toronto Area, ON
Adult Day Program clients at high risk of wandering, particularly persons with dementia, will be invited to enroll in a Video Safety Program. Yee Hong Centre and AIH Technologies will jointly develop a real-time solution to detect and report entries and exits by enrolled Adult Day Program clients. The solution combines an integrated system of cameras, artificial intelligence algorithms, database management and alerts to ensure Adult Day Program clients do not cross the Yee Hong Scarborough-McNicoll Centre’s entrance/exit thresholds unobserved by program staff.

Using Mobile EEG to Track Changes in Cognitive Impairment Over Time
Project Lead: Alexandre Henri-Bhargava
Host Organization: Vancouver Island Health Authority, BC
The aim of this project is to develop mobile EEG capability to monitor mild cognitive impact and predict specific cases that could develop into more problems for the patient. Approximately 2 in 10 cases of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may develop into dementia each year.  There is a potential to use this technology to develop a means to track the progression of MCI in the clinical environment and even potentially at home, thereby relieving pressure on the healthcare system. By using SUVA Technologies’ Aspire application, patients with MCI and their medical staff can perform rapid mobile brain health assessments to monitor condition progression with relative frequency.

Using sensors in long term care to reduce falls and improve quality of life
Project Lead: Cyrelle Muskat
Host Organization: Baycrest, Toronto, ON
The project team plans to incorporate sensors in clients’ individual units that will track activities of daily living (ADLs) to learn their normal behavior, and will use Artificial Intelligence to identify behaviour changes that could indicate changes in their condition. The sensors will passively collect data and the AI algorithm will automatically identify changes in normal trends that should be alerted to staff. Using this deep understanding of an individual’s ADLs, the project team aims to implement earlier interventions and preventative measures to reduce negative outcomes that could have developed, especially for older adults and persons living with dementia.

Video-based gait assessment to monitor changes in health status and reduce hospital visits in older adults with dementia
Project Lead: Andrea Iaboni
Host Organization: University Health Network, Toronto, ON
This project aims to use information about individuals’ walking to predict medical events and unplanned hospital visits in older adults with dementia living in a long-term care home. Artificial intelligence methods will be used to identify subtle changes in gait that are early markers of change in health status that precede an unplanned hospital visit.

Virtual Care Conferences: Driving Collaborative Care Planning Through Technology
Project Lead: Mary Kate Garrity
Host Organization: Scarborough Retirement Residence, Scarborough, ON
This project aims to address the logistical challenges of caregivers for seniors and persons living with dementia that prevent or limit their ability to attend in-person care conferences (such as taking time off work, cost of travel, unavailability, or limited proximity). The project will implement Think Research’s Virtual Care platform as a unique opportunity to offer residents’ caregivers the ability to access, manage, and actively participate in their loved ones’ care, regardless of location. By leveraging this technology, we will implement and evaluate the impact of virtual care conferences on facilitating collaborative care planning, improving coordination of care, and reducing stress of caregivers of seniors living with mild to moderate dementia.

Virtual Reality as an Adjunct in Management of Pain and Anxiety in the Palliative Care Setting
Project Lead: Stefan Riel
Host Organization: University of Manitoba Palliative Care Program, Winnipeg, MB
This project explores virtual reality (VR) as an additional treatment option in a palliative care setting to divert medications (such as benzodiazepines and opioids) in order to prevent cognitive deterioration near the end of life. Adding VR as an additional treatment option for pain and anxiety may decrease the medication necessary (reducing risk of delirium, falls, and confusion) and increase older adults’ chances of having an overall increase in quality of life during their final days.

York Care Centre resident using virtual reality

Virtual reality at York Care Centre

Virtual Reality Fall Prevention and Health Support System
Project Lead: Sherry Law
Host Organization: York Care Centre, Fredericton, NB
This project endeavours to build a virtual reality software system in support of gait and balance health services in ageing and long-term care (LTC) settings to improve efficiencies in specialized health access for residents, especially those living with dementia. Balance and gait assessments require clinician supervision for the duration of assessment, which limit preventative care to be accessible among all residents of LTC. This system will be designed to facilitate the process of basic balance and gait assessment and provide a means to observe and track mobility declines without the need for a specialist on site.

Virtual Reality Training for Caregivers of Persons with Dementia: Towards Greater Safety, Compassionate Care, and Scalability
Project Lead: Jordan Holmes
Host Organization: The Michener Institute of Education at UHN, Toronto, ON
This project aims to refine and scale a Virtual Reality (VR) platform and simulation curriculum to maximize opportunities for effective education for formal and informal caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD). This VR platform allows caregivers the ability to practice behavioural strategies with a live simulated patient that reacts in real time, based on the caregivers’ responses. Caregivers will also be able to build empathy as an observer by taking either the perspective of the PWD or the caregiver during the live interaction.

Virtual-Gym – A serious game platform to personalise exercise sessions for seniors at home
Project Lead: Eleni Stroulia
Host Organization: University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
Virtual-Gym was conceived to enable older adults and people living with dementia to exercise regularly and safely at home, guided by the expertise of physical therapists who can remotely monitor their clients’ progress. The therapist’s exercise specification generates a coach-avatar that demonstrates the exercise to the client, monitors their movements, and provides specific, timely, and personalised feedback. This project aims to increase compatibility with new hardware, extend the catalogue of exercises, add the option to play in a virtual reality version, and evaluate whether older adults with cognitive decline find it is more enjoyable and challenging compared to an original version of the system.

VRCHIVE: Workshop to Co-create Meaningful Memories by People with Dementia and their Caregivers using Virtual Reality Technology
Project Lead: Lora Appel
Host Organization: OpenLab UHN, Toronto, ON
VRCHIVE is a six-week workshop at the Toronto Public Library, whereby older adults with dementia and their family and friends will co-create Virtual Reality (VR) experiences that capture their memories to build a VR-Memory-Capsule. The program focuses on improving and strengthening the relationship between caregivers and their loved ones living with dementia, and is designed to decrease feelings of caregiver burnout as well as contribute to the cognitive health and quality of life for individuals with dementia.

Words at Your Fingertips Website Validation
Project Lead: Regina Jokel
Host Organization: Baycrest, Toronto, ON
This project will validate, a website that contains evidence-based activities for improving word retrieval in healthy older adults, counteracting the effects of aging on word finding. The website provides basic facts about language changes in aging and a self-assessment, in addition to exercises for retrieving words in various contexts and strategies to deal with embarrassing moments of forgetfulness.

Perspectives Program: Bringing together resources to scale
Project Lead: Jas Gill
Host Organization: Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver, BC
The Perspectives Program brings together people in long-term care homes with students, creating a platform for meaningful intergenerational exchange and social interaction through the co-design and co-creation of mini publications that express seniors’ stories through writing, photography, and other art media. This gives people in care a voice and provides them an opportunity for creative and emotional expression, allowing stimulation of positive memories and engagement in unique and meaningful activity – thereby interrupting the damaging discourses that surround aging and dementia. The project aims to publish the Perspectives Program Guide, create a resource-based website that shares case studies and insights, and produce an informational video and workshop series that can train academics and recreational therapists in how to best implement the program.