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Not surprisingly, most people wish to stay in their own homes as they get older. But as time goes on, they may need a lifeline.

Baycrest@Home, a new Baycrest service, empowers older adults to live safely at home by combining innovative technology and Baycrest’s expertise in brain health and aging. Baycrest@Home delivers real-time, virtual access to clinical expertise for families and a rich offering of unique social programming for older adults. The service uses everyday technology to reach clients via phone, video and web.

The concept appealed to Shane Grosman and Peter Seligman, co-chairs of the committee that created Baycrest@Home Founding Partners to help support the launch. The arrival of the pandemic “turbocharged everything” and became a catalyst that moved the blossoming service ahead at breakneck speed, Seligman noted.

Both Grosman and Seligman have a long history of philanthropy and had asked the Baycrest Foundation how they could get involved in a meaningful project that took advantage of innovative technology and thinking. They formed a committee, and when Ron Riesenbach, Baycrest Vice President, Innovation & Chief Technology Officer, told them about plans for Baycrest@Home, they were sold.

Grosman said Baycrest@Home “takes the best research from a world-renowned geriatric centre, the best care, the best support for caregivers, innovation and technology, and asks ‘how do we get it into people’s homes to let them live independently?’”

The committee held information sessions in 2019 at two downtown Toronto law firms, as well as at Grosman’s home, to build awareness of the initiative. The committee rallied support in the community, and members continue to contribute their time and talent to the project as it expands.

"Through Baycrest@Home’s programming, family support and professional expertise, this demographic can be empowered to live safely, happily and longer at home." - Peter Seligman, Committee Co-Chair, Baycrest@Home Founding Partners

“It’s a different style of philanthropy,” said Grosman, 49, noting that contributors receive regular briefings and can offer their insights and business expertise as the service continues to develop.

The cause resonates with a younger age group that is thinking about their parents and their own future needs.
“It’s becoming common for people to live into their 90s and they may need care for five, six or seven years,” said Seligman, 64. “Through Baycrest@Home’s programming, family support and professional expertise, this demographic can be empowered to live safely, happily and longer at home.” Seligman said his mother did not want to leave her home but she was making medication errors and not eating properly in her final years. Baycrest@Home could have helped support her during that time, he commented.

After a development phase, Baycrest@Home widened its reach in the spring of 2020 to help families that were isolated at home due to COVID-19.

Some of the programming offered through Baycrest@Home includes discussion groups, chair exercises, brain games, relaxation classes, instructional art, spiritual care and a storytelling club. Families have access to a virtual home safety assessment, nursing support and assistance with navigating the health system. A number of pilot programs are currently testing connected devices to improve safety and comfort in the home.

With a strong focus on family caregivers, cognitive health and customized care, the Baycrest@Home team works with participants to identify the services they need and want.

One user said Baycrest@Home keeps his partner, who has Alzheimer’s disease, interested and happily occupied for one to two hours a day. “They draw her out, and I can hear her speaking, replying and singing.

Routine is very important to someone with cognitive issues, and the program helps provide this structure,” he said.

Riesenbach said the Founding Partners have brought a business sensibility to Baycrest@Home.

Simon Cheesman, Director of Baycrest@Home, added, “they’re partners in more than just name. They’ve been real collaborators with us, bringing enthusiasm, lived experience and a willingness to contribute their time.”
In addition to the co-chairs, the Founding Partners committee includes Darren Abrahams, Noah Godfrey, Len
Goodman, Jamie Grossman, Justine Grossman Posluns, Jeremy Jacobs, Leslie Richmond, and Marnie Smith. There are currently more than 50 Founding Partner donors.

As the service develops further, the Founding Partners continue to welcome new supporters to help build the Baycrest@Home suite of services.

To learn more about the Baycrest@Home Founding Partners, contact Jessica Taylor at jtaylor@baycrest.org or
416-785-2500, ext. 3769. To subscribe to Baycrest@Home, visit baycrestathome.ca

Thank you to our other generous Baycrest@Home supporters: Pamela and Paul Austin, The Koschitzky Family, The Slaight Family Foundation, The Bernard & Norton Wolf Family Foundation, Jeff and Ilsa Blidner and Family, Harvey and Barbara Naglie, Gabi Weisfeld, Petro-Canada, Barry and Robin Picov, Harold and Ethel Freeman, Women Friends of Baycrest chaired by Tobie Bekhor and Gilda Goodman Helman.
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