Category: Community


91-year-old valedictorian: ‘You’re never too old to learn.’

“I myself have learned a lot from the courses, I knew absolutely nothing about art before. As the saying goes, you’re never too old to learn. It was really exciting for all of us today. The only thing lacking are the spike heels the Grade 8 girls were wearing!”                                           

Eva Kurtzman, valedictorian and the oldest student(91 years old) of Baycrest learning academy

The Baycrest Learning Academy, in partnership with Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education, is one of the most popular programs at Baycrest. It brings together a variety of older adult learners who are interested in challenging themselves, and who have an appetite for intellectual pursuits. Over the past three years, students have been offered courses in archeology, philosophy, theatre, astronomy, impressionism, history, biology, cinema, neuroscience, classical music, French literature, climatology, sociology and more. The most requested classes are typically music and arts-based – subjects that resonate with Baycrest’s clients, and trigger personal past memories.




Older adults’ storytelling builds one-of-a-kind living legacy

“We think Storycare is a concept that will spread, and that other institutions and healthcare settings will try to incorporate the arts, particularly the art of storytelling and writing, into their practices. Our hope is that healthcare professionals’ daily rounds will not only include talking about the biology of their patients, but what stories they carry with them, and who keeps their stories alive if they are unable to tell them themselves.”

– Dan Yashinsky, artist-in-residence at Baycrest Health Sciences

More than 80 people gathered at Baycrest Health Sciences on Friday, December 9 for a special Storycare Symposium. The event brought together people who practice the art of storytelling, healthcare clinicians and educators, as well as older adults to talk about the idea of stories from different perspectives and to explore the use of storytelling in working with older adults in the context of healthcare. This symposium was organized in collaboration with Storytelling Toronto, a group that was founded by seven storytellers who wanted to encourage the renaissance of storytelling in modern society. Keynote speakers included Dr. Steve Sabat, a professor emeritus at Georgetown University, specializing in the subjective experience of having Alzheimer’s disease, and Mary Louise Chown, a Winnipeg-based storyteller who pioneered the use of storytelling in palliative care.


Workshop for young and old paves path to a…

“These young people are amazingly articulate. Their education went a lot further than mine and I’m learning a lot from them. They are creative, artistic and great company. These students give me great hope for the future.”

                          – Pearl, Intergenerational Institute for Entrepreneurs participant

Ten students and six seniors, ranging in age from 13 to 93, participated in a 5-day program aimed at fostering entrepreneurial skills and design-thinking this past summer. Run by the Culture & Arts department at Baycrest, the Intergenerational Institute for Entrepreneurs brought experts from across the organization together to host workshops throughout the week. Participants worked together to discuss and solve challenges based on real-world issues. The group spent the week learning and working together through dance, meditation, martial arts and discussions about intergenerational and inclusive communities. At the end of the week, groups created and presented prototypes of new community spaces to a panel of judges. Teams were awarded certificates for innovation, application of technology, forward-thinking solutions, and community vision.

Glee Club, Seniors, Older Adults, Baycrest, Singing, Couple, hits, Elvis, Sinatra Care

The halls at Baycrest are alive with the sound…

“When the Buddy’s Glee Club first began as a small research project in our day centre back in 2011, we had no idea how popular the club would become. Participants enjoyed singing so much, they asked us to keep it going and as the research study expanded, new Glee Clubs were created across the Baycrest campus.  Currently, there are Buddy’s Glee Clubs in the Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged, and in both day centres. Music therapists act as the conductors for each group, which allows us to customize every session for the unique needs of each group. We’ve seen many Glee Club members make new friendships and strengthen relationships with caregivers, family members and friends.”

– Kiki Chang, Music Therapist, Department of Culture and Arts at Baycrest Health Sciences

Featuring songs from the 1950s and 1960s, Buddy’s Glee Clubs have been a part of life at Baycrest for the past six years. Each week, groups of older adults with a wide range of cognitive abilities gather in recreation rooms and shared spaces at Baycrest to sing hits from artists such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and from popular Broadway musicals. Music therapists choose songs to match the moods, emotions, and memories of each group and often pause rehearsals to jump into discussions about the histories of the musicians, songs and the participants’ own histories in relation to music. This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor.

Music is a part of everyday life in other ways too. Many philanthropic families enable Baycrest to present concerts for patients, residents and their families. Thank you to Hugh Furneaux, who generously joined the group this year by sponsoring our Sunday Concert Series.


Hockey tournament is a game-changer

“This is much more than a hockey tournament for us. We know that funds raised through this event support others coping with this awful disease. We are truly honoured to be part of the Pro-Am community and play alongside NHL greats with this shared vision in mind.”

                      – Joey Arfin & David Lewenberg, Co-Chairs, Scotiabank Pro-Am for Alzheimer’s in Support of Baycrest

The Scotiabank Pro-Am for Alzheimer’s in Support of Baycrest attracted hundreds of players who laced up and hit the ice with about 30 NHL Alumni while raising funds for Baycrest.

It was a hockey dream-come-true for many of the players. Festivities included an exciting draft night party and a fun-filled Family Day at the arena. In its 12-year history, the tournament has raised tens of millions of dollars. A heartfelt “thank you” to participants and sponsors.

Get involved.  Register for the 2018 tournament.


Women Friends of Baycrest support exceptional geriatric care

“Women Friends of Baycrest had a very successful third year, raising more than $180,000 for renovations of the new Geriatric Clinic. Our group in 2016 combined philanthropy with fun and interesting events featuring healthy eating, visual arts and vintage fashion, along with informative health talks by Baycrest doctors and researchers.”

                -Tobie Bekhor and Gilda Goodman Helman, Co-chairs, Women Friends of Baycrest

Baycrest is leading a culture shift around how to provide medical care for an aging population. In the Geriatric Clinic at Baycrest, specialists look at the whole person. If the issue is mobility, for example, there could be six different factors involved. Baycrest geriatricians aim to identify those factors, remediate, improve quality of life and help patients achieve their goals.

Learn more about Women Friends of Baycrest here, or contact Baycrest at 416-785-2500 ext. 2568.


A Canadian first: community-based affordable hearing care

“Our program is tailored to serve older adults with unmanaged hearing loss and consists of education and counselling around hearing and communication combined with low-cost, over-the-counter hearing devices. Only 20 per cent of those with hearing loss use hearing aids and this program will help those who have not previously sought help or who have difficulty accessing the current system.”

-Marilyn Reed, Practice Advisor for Audiology, Baycrest Health Sciences

The Toronto HEARS (Hearing Equality through Accessible Research and Solutions) project is the first Canadian community-based, low-cost, hearing rehabilitation program of its kind that will provide older adults easier access to affordable hearing care in their community.

Hearing loss is the third most common disability among older adults and is associated with declines in cognitive, physical and mental health. The average period between identifying hearing loss and seeking help is 10 years.

Baycrest’s Audiology department is partnering with community centres across Toronto to deliver and test the feasibility of Toronto HEARS, a program developed at Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The project aims to improve communication, social engagement and quality of life for seniors with hearing loss.

This program was generously funded by the Canadian Centre for Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI).


Accolades for Family Mentor Program


Francie Kendal, the lead of the Family Mentor Program at Baycrest, receives a volunteer award from the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto for her work on the program.

“The Family Mentor Program at Baycrest was designed to help to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that many families feel when moving a loved one to a long-term care home. The Family Mentor’s role is to provide a friendly welcome, comfort and peer support to new families.  The Family Mentor will phone the family member and offer to help them navigate the Baycrest community. We are so honoured that Accreditation Canada has recognized this program as a Leading Practice.”

Janis Sternhill, Director of Volunteer Services

Visit the Baycrest’s website for more information on the Family Mentor Program.


Smiles all around: Youth visits lead to meaningful friendships

“During each visit, our grade seven students, residents from the Apotex and patients from the hospital at Baycrest share stories and learn about each other’s traditions and shared histories. Every intergenerational group visit is different. Some weeks we play music and dance the Hora, other times we sing songs and recite prayers. Some of the residents are unable to verbalize their feelings, so they respond with smiles. The students really enjoy it and it’s clear the residents enjoy spending with younger generations.”

-Lindsay Budd, Middle School Coordinator, The Leo Baeck Day School South Campus

Grade seven students from The Leo Baeck Day School South Campus in Toronto have been paying regular visits to residents at the Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged and patients at the hospital at Baycrest Health Sciences this past year. This intergenerational program is designed to foster meaningful opportunities for students and older adults while engaging through the arts. As a result of the program, many students have expressed interest in volunteering at Baycrest on an ongoing basis.


An exceptional opportunity to imagine dream career

Marie Nunziata, Talent Manager for Baycrest, talks about the hidden job market and to never say no to an opportunity.

“Last summer, Baycrest’s Youth Council held its first ever Career Day, which gave youth volunteers an opportunity to engage with Baycrest’s staff members, hear about their professional journeys, ask questions and gain insight regarding their roles at Baycrest. I am so thrilled to have been given this time to interact with various staff members and learn about health care as an interdisciplinary field.”

                                                       -Shaira Wignarajah, Baycrest Youth Council Co-President