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A new chapter begins at the Reitman Centre

May 24, 2024

Reitman Centre

As the demand for dementia caregiver support continues to rise, the Cyril & Dorothy, Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training is expanding its reach and impact. What initially began as an innovative local initiative at Mount Sinai Hospital has blossomed into a province-wide program funded and supported by Ontario Health. The Enhancing Care Program is now offered at 15 partner sites across Ontario with Sinai Health serving as the central hub for training, education and ongoing local care tailored to the needs of caregivers.

As the program continues to grow, a new leadership team and model designed to meet evolving needs has been introduced. Dr. Irina Nica-Graham has assumed an expanded role as Medical Director for the Outpatient Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic and the local Reitman Centre caregiver support interventions. This ensures that dementia care remains holistic, inclusive and family-centered. Dr. Nica-Graham's tenure at Sinai Health has included an academic focus on education and capacity building in geriatric mental health care including collaborations with Family Medicine physicians.

Dr. Virginia Wesson has taken on the role of Medical Director for Training and External Partnerships, collaborating with Cheryl Miller, the Enhancing Care Program’s inaugural provincial manager, to support training and service delivery in partnership with local experts across Ontario. Since arriving at Mount Sinai Hospital in 2006, Dr. Wesson has devoted her clinical, creative and research efforts to working with older adults including extensive work with care partners of family members living with dementia in the community. Dr. Wesson was one of the initial collaborators on this work at its’ inception.

"With an aging population and growing numbers of older adults with dementia, this program will continue to be a vital resource across Ontario," says Dr. Lesley Wiesenfeld, Physician Lead of the Geriatric Psychiatry Program and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Sinai Health. "We look forward to continuing to grow nimbly and responsively to those needs while ensuring the program’s ongoing integration with mental health care for older adults and their families."

The team is grateful to founding director, Dr. Joel Sadavoy, for his dedication to geriatric mental health leadership. Under his guidance, the Reitman Centre has flourished, offering exceptional care through innovative programs like CARERS (Coaching, Advocacy, Respite, Education, Relationship, Simulation). This 8-session skills-based program empowers family caregivers with practical tools and emotional support.

Through the CARERS intervention, caregivers develop effective problem-solving skills, enhance communication and manage dementia-related behaviors. They engage in role-playing scenarios with professional actors, receive guidance from expert clinical staff and find solace in a supportive community. The program fosters resilience, reduces isolation and equips caregivers to continue providing compassionate care. Mental Health Clinicians at the Reitman Centre continue to provide care in this model and a suite of other programs they have thoughtfully modified to meet a variety of needs.

We extend our deepest gratitude to the Reitman family for their generous and visionary support of this unique Centre that bears their name. Their commitment has laid the foundation for transformative care and innovation in dementia caregiving.


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