Under One Umbrella: Care for Degenerative Brain Conditions

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Degenerative brain conditions can lead someone with symptoms, at various stages, to one specialist or clinic after another for assessment and treatment. In the process, they lose precious time for starting therapies that could potentially slow the disease.

Baycrest has embarked on a fundamental redesign of care delivery systems, creating the Pamela & Paul Austin Centre for Neurology and Behavioural Support.

Housed on Baycrest’s flagship campus in Toronto, the new centre will address the urgent need for innovations to support the estimated 430,000 Ontarians who will be living with dementia and other degenerative brain conditions by 2038, and their caregivers.

The interprofessional team comprises sub-specialties in neurology, allowing Baycrest to coordinate assessment, diagnosis and care for patients with cognitive decline, dementia and behavioural challenges, movement disorders, and multiple sclerosis.

“This new, innovative model of care will demonstrate what is possible in supporting individuals with dementia across the continuum of care, and as their disease progresses,” said Scott Ovenden, President and Chief Executive Officer, Baycrest Hospital.

“Creating a home base for diagnosis, treatment and services for patients and their caregivers will make a meaningful change in the quality of care and value for the healthcare system.”

The inaugural Medical Director is Dr. Morris Freedman, who is also Head, Division of Neurology, Medical Director, Cognition and Behaviour, and Rotman Research Institute Scientist at Baycrest.

At the new centre, Dr. Freedman will also build on a highly successful Virtual Behavioural Medicine (VBM) program launched at Baycrest just prior to the pandemic in 2020.

VBM offers virtual assessment and management for individuals with neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia in acute care hospitals, long-term care homes or in the community. These symptoms are also referred to as responsive behaviours and include — but are not limited to — aggression, agitation and hallucinations.

“This unique, scalable model of care has reduced the need for admissions to specialized hospital behavioural units,” Dr. Freedman said. “Others in the medical field are extremely interested, and it has the potential to be replicated at centres across Canada and around the world.”
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