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Reitman Centre-led ENRICHES initiative to support isolated senior caregivers

Kevin Goldthorp, Joel Reitman, the Honourable Alice Wong, Dr. Virginia Wesson, and Dr. Molyn Leszcz

Isolated. Stressed. Lonely. People caring for a family member at home commonly use these terms to describe their daily lives. These caregivers often find themselves so focused on meeting the demanding needs of their loved ones that they become cut-off from friends and outside activities, putting them at higher risk for stress-related illnesses and burnout.

A new initiative being led by Sinai Health System’s Cyril & Dorothy, Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training brings together the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, North York Community House, WoodGreen Community Services, and Canadian Mental Health Association to measurably reduce the rate of social isolation of marginalized senior caregivers.  Working together as the ENRICHES Collective, these organizations will identify, engage and support senior caregivers, connect with them through community-based educational activities, and build public awareness. This program was recently announced by Canada’s Minister of State for Seniors, the Honourable Alice Wong, as part of almost $3.7M in national funding for addressing seniors’ isolation in partnership with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.  

ENRICHES capitalizes on the Reitman Centre’s nationally recognized expertise in developing and implementing evidence-based programs to support and sustain family caregivers of dementia patients. Its leadership in training professionals to offer unique programs such as the CARERS program, which helps caregivers in their workplaces and has been rolled out across the country, positions the Reitman Centre well to lead this GTA initiative.  

Mount Sinai Hospital’s Foundation will provide the administrative support for the ENRICHES initiative, while each partner will develop individual programs. "We are very grateful that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting isolated senior caregivers,” said Kevin Goldthorp, CEO of Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation and Executive Vice President of Sinai Health System, who spoke at the recent announcement. “We are also grateful to the McConnell Foundation for its valuable consultation services, and the Reitman family for sustained support of our numerous caregiver programs. This effort illustrates what can be achieved through public, private and philanthropic partnerships.” 

“This is a strong example of the kind of collaborative, innovative initiative that will enable the recently created Sinai Health System to build integrated care models that improve the quality of life for our most vulnerable patients and their families,” said Joseph Mapa, CEO of Sinai Health System. “Mount Sinai was the first acute care hospital in Canada to make geriatrics and healthy aging a strategic priority, and I am immensely proud of the work that the Reitman Centre is doing to improve the quality of life for seniors.”

“I am delighted to have the Reitman Centre’s Dr. Virginia Wesson lead this new program,” said Dr. Joel Sadavoy, Director of the Reitman Centre, Head of Geriatric Psychiatry and Sam and Judy Pencer and Family Chair in Applied General Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Having witnessed the benefits of training programs for caregivers, I expect ENRICHES to have a meaningful impact on our community.”

Kevin Goldthorp and the Honourable Alice Wong

Sinai Health System's Kevin Goldthorp and the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State for Seniors