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Memory Care Innovations

The most up-to-date approaches to dementia care

Find innovative memory care homes near you

“We focus on the person, not the disease,” says Maggie Beckett, Director of Memory Care for Alavida Lifestyles. It’s an attitude echoed in many care communities, one that sparks personalization and constant innovation in treatment and care available. Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Canada undergo continued improvement, seen in emerging trends like the following:

Read our guide to Alzheimer's care homes, including listings and a full look at memory care.

Innovative Canadian memory care homes

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The Dunfield Retirement Residence

The Dunfield Retirement Residence

77 Dunfield Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2H3
The Dunfield Retirement Residence has established a new standard in senior retirement living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with 177 spacious apartments. Where people come to LIVE!
OPAL by Element

OPAL by Element

438 West King Edward Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Y2J4
438 West King Edward Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Y 2J4 Opal offers a full continuum of support from Independent Living, Assisted living all the way to Complex Care, allowing the opportunity for aging in place.
The Village at University Gates

The Village at University Gates

250 Laurelwood Drive, Waterloo, Ontario, N2J 0E2
The Village of Winston Park

The Village of Winston Park

695 Block Line Road, Kitchener, Ontario, N2E 3K1
This elegant retirement residence in Kitchener-Waterloo offers a continuum of care from long-term care to assisted living to independent living seniors apartments.
The Village of Riverside Glen

The Village of Riverside Glen

60 Woodlawn Road East, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 8M8
This elegant Guelph retirement home offers a range of care including assisted living and long term care, serviced by a friendly, caring staff.
The Village of Arbour Trails

The Village of Arbour Trails

32 Bayberry Drive, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 0A2
Guelph retirement home offers Assisted Living and Alzheimer's Care, includes 24 hour onsite nursing staff and features its own Town Square.
The Village of Humber Heights

The Village of Humber Heights

2245 Lawrence Avenue West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9P 3W3
The Village of Humber Heights in Etobicoke offers different levels of service from independent apartments with meals to assisted living to long-term care.
The Village of Erin Meadows

The Village of Erin Meadows

2930 Erin Centre Boulevard, Mississauga, Ontario, L5M 7M4
Mississauga's unique continuum of care concept featuring Independent Living Suites, Retirement Apartments, Full Service Suites with walk out patios, Assisted Care, Memory Care and Long Term Care.
The Village of Taunton Mills

The Village of Taunton Mills

3800 Brock Sreet North, Whitby, Ontario, L1R 3A5
The Village of Taunton Mills in Whitby presents several levels of service from seniors' apartments with meals to assisted living to long-term care.
The Village of Wentworth Heights

The Village of Wentworth Heights

1620 Upper Wentworth St., Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 2W3
The Village of Wentworth Heights is a full-service retirement living community offering retirement apartments, full-service suites, assisted living and memory care.
The Village of Tansley Woods

The Village of Tansley Woods

4100 Upper Middle Road, Burlington, Ontario, L7W 4W8
Elegant Burlington, Ontario retirement home including everything from the current long term care to new independent living suites, offering various seniors services.
Metta Lifestyles Greenview Retirement

Metta Lifestyles Greenview Retirement

880 Lawrence Ave E, North York, Ontario, M3C1P6
At Greenview Residence, we offer a complete range of care services in a welcoming environment. Whether it's our compassionate staff, fresh homemade meals, or exciting and engaging activities, you will truly feel at home.
Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace

285030 Luther Rose Blvd NE, Calgary, Alberta, T1X 1M9
Prince of Peace a variety of suites styles with kitchenettes and incredible mountain views. It's the perfect residence for seniors who are active, require some assistance, or have memory care needs.
Symphony Senior Living Kanata

Symphony Senior Living Kanata

27 Weaver Crescent, Kanata, Ontario, K2K 2Z8
Enjoy the natural setting of the surrounding Kanata Lakes with access to shopping, parks and churches at Symphony Senior Living Kanata. This pet friendly community offers a variety of service packages and suites to fulfill your unique needs.
McCowan Retirement Residence

McCowan Retirement Residence

2881 Eglinton Avenue East, Scarborough, Ontario, M1J 0A2
McCowan Retirement Residence is a vibrant and family oriented retirement home located in Scarborough. With team members who have been here since we opened in 2004, you can expect a warm welcome and a feeling of home.
Park Place Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

Park Place Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

110 & 120 Central Park Dr, Ottawa, Ontario, K2C 4G3
Whether you're looking for independent living, assisted living or memory care, you can access them all in one location at Park Place. We are a vibrant, social community surrounded by parks and close to many amenities.
Seacliff Manor Retirement Residence

Seacliff Manor Retirement Residence

30 Seacliff Drive East, Leamington, Ontario, N8H 0E5
At Seacliff Manor, we provide a vibrant, supportive retirement lifestyle complete with restaurant style dining and social events and activities. Choose from independent living, assisted living, and memory care options.
Forest Valley Terrace

Forest Valley Terrace

1510 St. Joseph Boulevard, Orleans, Ontario, K1C 7L1
Forest Valley Terrace is proud to be the only community that is designed & dedicated to accommodate the needs of seniors with all stages of Alzheimer’s, dementia or other forms of memory impairment in Ottawa.
Wintergreene Estates

Wintergreene Estates

4950 Pasqua Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4S 7L2
At Wintergreene you'll discover a combination of independence, privacy, activities, health and wellness programs & friendly companionship to savour throughout your retirement.
The Village Langley

The Village Langley

3920 198th Street, Langley, British Columbia, V3A 1C8
We believe that the desire to achieve well-being, purpose and fulfillment does not diminish with a dementia diagnosis. We focus on the possibilities of each Villager with support to live life with laughter, love and joy.
Southbrook

Southbrook

400 Ray Lawson Blvd., Brampton, Ontario, L6Y 4G4
Southbrook is all about choice - the choice to do what you want, when you want. We celebrate independence but we are here to provide assistance whenever you need it. Southbrook....be a part of the family.
Promenade Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

Promenade Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

110 & 150 Rossignol Drive, Orleans, Ontario, K4A 0N2
With so much to do nearby, it’s easy to forget why you might want to stay home, but with its exceptional dining, impeccable design, and fun activities, you’ll find Promenade has many attractions of its own!
Metta Lifestyles Queens Estate Retirement

Metta Lifestyles Queens Estate Retirement

265 Queens Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M6L 3C6
At Queens Estate, we offer a complete range of care services in a welcoming environment. Whether it's our compassionate staff, fresh homemade meals, or exciting and engaging activities, you will truly feel at home.
Villagia in the Glebe

Villagia in the Glebe

480 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 3N6
Villagia is centrally located on the edge of the Glebe, the downtown core and just steps away from the world renowned Rideau Canal.
New Horizons Tower

New Horizons Tower

1140 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6H 4E6
From gracious dining to new suites and lounges, residents are enjoying the new management and upgrades found at 1140 Bloor Street West, in the Heart of Bloordale Village.
Aster Gardens - Optima Living

Aster Gardens - Optima Living

7 Brower Drive, Sherwood Park, Alberta, T8A5L2
Aster Gardens, coming Fall 2020, is Sherwood Parks’ newest residence that will transform the way seniors live. Every part of the building has been designed from the perspective of the resident. Let Us Welcome You Home.
Riverbend Crossing by Esprit Lifestyle Communities

Riverbend Crossing by Esprit Lifestyle Communities

2235 Heseltine Rd, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4V 2Y7
Riverbend Crossing is a memory care community located in Regina, Saskatchewan, specializing in caring for those living with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other forms of cognitive or memory impairment.
Carleton Place Terrace by Symphony

Carleton Place Terrace by Symphony

6 Arthur Street, Carleton Place, Ontario, K7C 4S4
Carleton Place Terrace welcomes pets: offers residents plenty of options with studios and one-bedrooms that may include a kitchenette & / or a walk-out . Activities & chef-prepared meals keep residents healthy & active.
Delmanor Elgin Mills

Delmanor Elgin Mills

80 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4C 0L3
Award Winning Delmanor Elgin Mills, has proudly served the Richmond Hill community since 2002.
Hawthorn Park Retirement Community

Hawthorn Park Retirement Community

867 KLO Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1Y 9G5
Living at Hawthorn Park Retirement Residence means you have choices & can customize the services you need, as you need them. We offer three lifestyle opportunities; supportive living, assisted living & complex care.
Carp Commons Retirement Village

Carp Commons Retirement Village

458 Donald B. Munro Drive, Carp, Ontario, K0A 1L0
One visit to Carp Commons Retirement Village and you’ll see the difference in terms of amenities, food, services, programs, and the little touches that make it feel like home.
Spectrum Health Care

Spectrum Health Care

2 Bloor Street East, Suite 2101, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 1A8
Spectrum Health Care offers a range of quality health care services designed to suit the individual needs of each client. Our services include nursing, personal/home support, foot care, physiotherapy, and companionship.
Origin at Spring Creek

Origin at Spring Creek

808 Spring Creek Drive, Canmore, Alberta, T1W0K3
Origin at Spring Creek is Bow Valley’s leading independent, assisted living, & memory care community. Nestled in the luxurious mountain town of Canmore, we empower our residents to remain happy, healthy & active.
Bayshore Home Health

Bayshore Home Health

2101 Hadwen Road, Mississauga, Ontario, L4W 1L8
Bayshore Home Health understands that aging at home can be the best option for many seniors. We provide personalized home care services to meet your needs and support you and your family throughout the care process.
Holland Gardens

Holland Gardens

552 Holland St W, Bradford, Ontario, L3Z 2H4
Located in the heart of a vibrant community, Holland Gardens is the perfect place to live, laugh and enjoy life. An exciting community offering a luxurious resort lifestyle, an ideal place for inspired senior living.
Credit River

Credit River

175 Rutledge Rd., Mississauga, Ontario, L5M 0X7
Credit River is a 6-storey condo style residence, with an array of well-appointed suite styles to choose from and our highly-skilled health care professionals are available around the clock if you need them.
Chartwell Georgian Traditions Retirement Residence

Chartwell Georgian Traditions Retirement Residence

57 Trott Blvd., Collingwood, Ontario, L9Y 0A3
Chartwell Scarlett Heights Retirement Residence

Chartwell Scarlett Heights Retirement Residence

4005 Eglinton Ave West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9A 5H3
Chartwell Eau Claire Care Residence

Chartwell Eau Claire Care Residence

301 7th Street SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 1Y6
Chartwell Willow Retirement Community

Chartwell Willow Retirement Community

12275-224th Street, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, V2X 6H5
Chartwell Empress Kanata Retirement Residence

Chartwell Empress Kanata Retirement Residence

170 McGibbon Drive, Kanata, Ontario, K2L 4H5
Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence

Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence

460 Rymal Road West, Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 0B2

Here's a look at the way memory care communities innovate their approach in 2019:

Ongoing education of care staff

Rachelle Vroom is proud of Symphony Senior Living Orleans’ recent training in virtual dementia. “A few months ago we ran sessions at all four of our Ottawa locations, holding it open to the public, family members, anyone who wanted to take part and kind of ‘walk a mile in their shoes,’ to find out what a difference dementia makes to their loved ones' lives.” This training program for staff was also open to family members and others who wanted to get a sense of what it is like to live with dementia.

In the virtual dementia program, people were suited up with various equipment and placed into a mockup of a resident’s room. They were asked to complete five tasks, but in a VR context that simulated symptoms of someone living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The effect of the exercise was phenomenal. “Trying to understand and complete tasks was completely different for people. The virtual dementia program allowed them to understand how someone with dementia would go about trying to understand a task. It really helped everyone, including family members and our staff to understand the frustrations of dementia. It gave them a better understanding of the confusion the resident may face.”

“After the program,” says Vroom, “staff was better able to understand and relate to the resident. For example, they would now focus on giving visual cues to the resident, visual cues that avoided confusing the resident, instead of just a verbal cue. They might now lay clothing on the bed and give the resident a visual choice what they might wear today.”

Staff was better able to understand and relate to residents. We saw a 30 percent improvement in our DACE scores.

That wasn’t just a vague feeling but a quantifiable improvement in staff’s ability to understand care needs. “In our DACE* scoring system,” explains Vroom,  “we scored all of our employees prior to the training, then after they went through the training, and we saw a 30 percent improvement in scores.” 

This impacted family members who took part in the program as well. “Now family understands why they have to repeat the same thing five times. Now they understand why their loved one gets impatient or responds differently to lights and sounds. It helped them understand their loved one and how to live with the disease as well.”  

Relationship-centered care, by professionally trained care staff

Other retirement communities also use the virtual dementia program, including staff at Alavida Lifestyles and elsewhere. Training and support, says Beckett, "is deeply rooted in relationship centered care and wellbeing – to ensure that our residents feel belonging." Coupled with training in Gentle Persuasion, care staff in these communities are exceptionally well-trained in patience and empathy with dementia sufferers.

Ratios of care staff to residents are also kept to a minimum at many communities, to maximize care given to each resident. For example, at Credit River in Mississauga, this ratio is kept to six to one, says Bobbie Seaton, supervisor of Memory Care. "Everything is very tailored to person-centered care here," she adds. "We take information from families and customize it for each individual. In the end, we're able to appeal to each resident's uniqueness."

"That's really what makes our community special and unique," echoes Jennifer Beninato, MemoryPlus Manager at Delmanor Elgin Mills. "Our kind, dedicated team members. Each team member was carefully chosen, and each and every one comes with a rich history in dementia care. Time and time again, our families express their gratitude and how it’s clear to them how genuinely our team cares."

Spaces that promote calmness

The centerpiece of **Davenhill Senior Living’s memory care floor is the simulated beachside quiet room. The “ocean room” features Muskoka chairs, an aquarium full of fish, seaside sounds played over speakers (including waves and calling gulls) and even sand for people to sink their toes into. “It’s perfect for those times where people feel the need for a quiet spot to calm down. They come here and they hear the sounds of the ocean and you can just see them lighten up,” says Janice Pitts, the community's Executive Director.

It’s a solution that works for people experiencing the anxiety and agitation that are symptomatic of dementia, especially sundowning. No matter who you are, it’s hard not to feel calmer when you are in the beachside room at Davenhill Senior Living.

At Schlegel Villages, you’ll also find intimacy created in “neighbourhoods” following from the village concept  to Schlegel, but every Schlegel community has a neighbourhood dedicated to people with Alzheimers’ and other forms of dementia. Its memory care neighbourhoods, found in its Villages across Ontario, are ideal as a stopgap for families waiting for a long term bed in that province. As Barb Sutcliffe of the Village of Winston Park in Kitchener says, “this affords people the opportunity to get the support they need as an interim step.” Emma’s Neighbourhood is the name of the memory care neighbourhood at Winston Park. Sutcliffe says, “It’s a safe, secured environment, where there are registered staff on duty 24 hours a day.”

Creation of a more homelike feel

The intimacy and peace found in these spaces is part of an effort by designers like Toronto’s Andrea vander King to "as much as possible, mirror life through the creation of familiar surroundings."  Schlegel Villages remain a superior example of this, with the layout of every community mimicking a village, with a main street, town square and shops to create a pervasively familiar, small town feel.

A “homelike feel” is critical to memory care at Carp Commons, one of many Verve Senior Living properties across Canada. One of the features of this community, just outside Ottawa, is its “Household Suites.” Here, a minimum number of residents live in a quiet, comfortable environment that includes a private family style dining area. We don't take a "one-size-fits-all approach," says Sales & Marketing Manager Rebekah Gunning, but instead, "focus on reducing anxiety for residents and their families."

“At our communities," says Elaine Wood, Vice President of Delmanor, "we have a life skills area, where we have an office set up, everything is there for them to be able to go to work and for them it’s about being able to continue doing a job. But Life Skills is only one component of our MemoryCare Plus neighbourhood…Our dementia design expert has helped guide us in others. One of the important design elements seen in our communities is the indoor porch.”

Similarly, Annette Polasek is proud of “Personal Care Households” at Wintergreene Estates in Regina. 12 units are "designed in a circle" to eliminate dead ends and wrong turns that can easily cause disorientation for dementia sufferers. As she says, "The resident always end up back at their room." It’s a wonderful instance of continuous circulation paths, an important component of many of the best memory care communities. 

The layout of Credit River's memory care floor is also circular, "really more like two households in a kind of figure 8," says Jill Somerville, the community's Senior Sales and Marketing Manager. "Inside, there's a very bright and happy feel. The suites, too, are very relaxing. One family member has called our suites a 'zen zone,' where it's so easy to decompress and relax." 

One of the design features you’ll immediately notice on Davenhill Senior Living’s memory care floor is closets and doors wallpapered with the appearance of a bookshelf. This is also in line with a principle of minimizing seniors’ tendency to confusion, wandering or elopement. Memory care residents are discouraged from opening a door that may only confuse them. 

As much as possible, we try to mirror normal life through the creation of familiar surroundings.

These design innovations are not meant to "trick" those with dementia but to guard safety and security and remove things in their environment that may make them apprehensive or disoriented. This softened feel supports better personal relationships among everyone (staff and senior residents) "and stress levels are minimized."

Encouraging memory and social interaction

Many communities offer brain games and other programs that facilitate and improve memory.  One exceptional example is The Healthy Minds Program at Ravines, Promenade and Park Place in Ottawa (all owned by Alavida Lifestyles). Maggie Beckett, Alavida Lifestyles' dedicated Director of Memory Care and Clinical Services, focuses on helping all family members through their journey with Alzheimer’s. Music Therapy is a critical component of this program, also. You’ll find a certified Music Therapist regularly visiting any Alavida community, facilitating its Music & Memory Program. "The program gives our residents a renewed meaning and connection in their lives through the gift of personalized music," says Beckett. Music is demonstrated to stimulate memory and exercises specific parts of the brain.

Carp Commons ensures “research-based, professionally directed, and completely customizable activities” for those in memory care, according to Gunning. “This includes brain fitness, cueing and reminder exercises. These help bring out the best in our residents and support a positive outlook and overall mental health.”

The Music and Memory program at Schlegel supports residents living with dementia, using music that helps bring a sense of wellbeing, improves mood and soothes any negative stress they may be feeling.

The Java Music Program is another noted program found at memory care communities across the country, including McCowan Retirement Residence in Scarborough. Here, the Memory Lane (its dedicated memory care floor) activity calendar includes Java Music Club twice per month. This program encourages social interaction through music, helping to alleviate the isolation inherent to dementia while also encouraging memory retention through music.

And in a unique take on social interaction, Credit River encourages internal residents to work with those in memory care. "Residents from independent living come in for reading programs and baking programs," says Seaton. "It's really a very homey communal environment here." 

Use of latest technology

Innovations in technology are at the forefront in memory care as well.

Call badges. At Symphony Senior Living communities throughout Ottawa, the security of dementia residents is safeguarded through the use of pendants equipped with GPS tracking. Under this system, used with the enthusiastic consent of family members, dementia patients who have a tendency to wander are given a Momentum Badge. The Badge is used to call for help if they need it.

Real time location systems are a simple way of tracking the whereabouts of those suffering from dementia and the tendency to wander, and inobtrusive use of GPS is found in an increasing number of memory care communities across the country.

WanderGuard is another similar technology used in communties such as Credit River (see above). "It looks like a watch," says Seaton, "but it signals to staff and beeps to staff's phones, so that staff can respond when a resident needs direction."   

Snoezelen rooms create a “soothing, stimulating environment” for Alzheimer’s Disease sufferers, as noted by Kolasek. Other memory care communities including many Schlegel Villages are also equipped with Snoezelen rooms.

Circadian lighting. Harsh or overstimulating lighting is known to exacerbate the effects of sundowning, a syndrome strongly associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Davenhill Senior Living is one of the first communities in Canada where the lighting mimics circadian rhythms. This has a calming effect on residents here.

Every room in the Davenhill is equipped with a Google Home unit, as well. Residents adapt well to this simple, unobtrusive technology, understanding they can control music and other environmental elements. One senior at the Davenhill likes to speak in the Spanish of her childhood and Google Home is an easily accessible help with this. “Sometimes she’ll go back to her Spanish and it helps us translate,” says Janice Pitts of the Davenhill.

One senior at the Davenhill likes to speak the Spanish of her childhood and Google Home helps staff easily translate.

The residents adapt easily to the availability of Google Home in every room. “They love it that they can find and play old music,” she adds, “things like Cole Porter and the old standards. They can play anything that suits them.”

Resident-centered care

“It’s really important that we look at everything through the lens of our residents,” says Elaine Wood of Delmanor. "MemoryPlus is about looking at dementia through a different lens. It’s about saying to people that, although I have dementia, I’m still here.”

It's an ideal held by many in the memory care field. And as, Bobbie Seaton of Credit River says, "just because there's memory loss, doesn't mean that we can't make life amazing and make every day enjoyable." 

*Dementia Awareness Competency Evaluation

**Closing as of summer 2019.

- Jim Huinink 




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