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Mount Sinai Hospital To Lead New Workplace Program To Support Dementia Caregivers

NEWS RELEASE                                        June 26, 2013

Canadians who are currently torn between the demands of their jobs and caring for a loved one with dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease could soon have access to innovative skills training and tools provided through their workplace. Mount Sinai Hospital has just been awarded a five-year, $2.84 million grant from the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program to develop the first comprehensive program of its kind in Canada devoted to supporting working caregivers.

The Reitman Centre Working CARERS Program will be developed through an innovative partnership between the federal government, Mount Sinai Hospital and private-sector partners. It will provide employees with skills training, education and emotional support tailored to individual caregiver needs. Delivered to employees and their dependents by trained Employee Assistance professionals, this program will be grounded in therapeutic principles and offer group workshops, hands-on simulation-based caregiver training and individual attention with a goal to relieve the intense pressure and impact that caring for a loved one with dementia has on their lives.

The development of the Reitman Centre Working CARERS Program will be led by Dr. Joel Sadavoy, a leading authority on geriatric mental health with over 30 years of experience and Director of Mount Sinai’s Cyril & Dorothy, Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training and Dr. Virginia Wesson, the implementation lead for the program and a skilled geriatric psychiatrist and caregiver specialist. The Reitman Centre is the only centre of its kind in Canada dedicated to comprehensive care for caregivers of patients with dementia. Mount Sinai Hospital is known for its expertise in caring for older adults and it was the first acute care hospital in Canada to make geriatrics a key strategic priority.

The Reitman Centre Working CARERS Program is scheduled to be launched in the fall of 2013 and will be offered by participating corporate partners, beginning with BMO Financial Group as the first to introduce the program. Ceridian HCM, a global leader in human capital management and provider of employee assistance program, LifeWorks, will deliver the program.   

With the number of Canadians suffering from dementia expected to nearly double over the next 30 years, programs such as this will play a vital role in sustaining caregivers who are known to be at higher risk for stress-related illnesses, depression and burnout and are looking for effective ways to help address and resolve their challenges.  

“Dementia is a growing problem in Canada impacting the lives of Canadians in many ways including a major negative effect on working caregivers productivity and wellbeing. I have seen first hand the value of training programs for caregivers. I am thrilled that this grant will, for the first time, bring effective tools and training to employees in their workplace, helping to reduce their stress, enhance their productivity and improve their relationship with their loved one.” Dr. Joel Sadavoy, Director of the Cyril & Dorothy Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer's Support and Training and Head of the Community and Geriatric Psychiatry Services at Mount Sinai Hospital.

“By investing in programs such as Mount Sinai Hospital’s Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training, our government is supporting Canadian families who care for family members with dementia at home.” Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

“The emotional strain imposed on those who care for a family member or loved one living with dementia is enormous, particularly if that caregiver is also in the workforce. As an employee assistance program provider, Ceridian LifeWorks has seen the positive impact of preventative efforts.  We’re honoured to be partnering with the renowned Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training to deliver this progressive, evidence-based program. The goal is to provide effective and meaningful support to working caregivers and their family members so they can achieve balance and manage their stress, which in turn, will help to minimize the impact of caregiving responsibilities on workplace productivity.” Estelle Morrison, Vice President of Clinical and Wellness Services, Ceridian.

“Our goal is always to support our employees in developing and fulfilling their potential, and we recognize that barriers to career success are not exclusive to the workplace. Dealing with chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s is a continuous process.  As a founding partner in The Reitman Centre Working CARERS Program, BMO can now provide our employees with a critical level of professional support that will help them cope with the challenge of balancing their work and caregiving responsibilities.” Richard Rudderham, Executive Vice-President and Head, Human Resources for BMO Financial Group.

“Being a working carer has health, social and economic consequences for family, community and society as a whole. In recognizing this increasing trend particularly associated with caring for family members with Alzheimer’s disease, the Government of Canada has demonstrated leadership in supporting a groundbreaking program that is expected to inform policy and practice nationally and internationally. The International Federation on Ageing commends the commitment of private-sector partners and Mount Sinai Hospital in joining forces to create solutions through innovative practice.” Dr Jane Barratt, Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing.

“As a family that has been affected by Alzheimer's disease, we are so proud to have supported Mount Sinai Hospital and the very skilled Dr. Joel Sadavoy in their successful efforts to help carers and their loved ones.” Joel, Jill and Dorothy Reitman.

Quick Facts

•    Research supports how significantly caregivers are impacted: the rate of depression among caregivers is much higher than in the general population at up to 40 per cent.
•    There are currently 500,000 Canadians suffering from dementia and this number is expected to nearly double over the next 30 years as a result of an aging population.  
•    Almost all dementia sufferers in the community are reliant on one or more family caregivers.
•    To learn more about The Cyril & Dorothy, Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training, visit

About Mount Sinai Hospital

Mount Sinai Hospital is as an internationally recognized 442-bed acute care academic health sciences centre affiliated with the University of Toronto that is dedicated to delivering the best medicine and best patient experience. It is focused on excellence in patient and family-centred care, innovative education and leading-edge research. Clinical strengths include women’s and infants’ health, chronic disease management, specialized cancer, emergency medicine, and geriatrics. The hospital has been designated with Exemplary Status from Accreditation Canada and every aspect of patient care is anchored in a rigorous quality plan and monitoring of safety and quality goals. Mount Sinai’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute ranks in the top ten biomedical research institutes in the world. The Hospital is considered to be a top employer in Canada, receiving multiple awards for its employment and culture centred programs.

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For more information, please contact:
Leslie O’Leary
Senior Specialist, Media Relations and Public Affairs
Mount Sinai Hospital
Telephone: 416-586-4800 ext. 8306
Email: lo’[email protected]