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Algonquin College News

AC unveils Garbarino Girard Centre for Innovation in Seniors Care

May 25, 2016
A groundbreaking seniors’ apartment of the future is now officially open at Algonquin College, supported by numerous community partnerships and a $1 million transformational gift — the largest donation from an Estate in the College’s history.
The Garbarino Girard Centre for Innovation in Seniors Care is charting a bold new course for geriatric care, providing a learning lab, applied research facility, and an opportunity to collaborate with the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre (WOCRC) on an adult day-program for seniors with dementia.
“The Garbarino Girard Centre for Innovation in Seniors Care is a model for collaboration between our College and the community — our students receive hands-on training with real clients, and the community gains a valuable new resource that reduces the burden on our healthcare system,” said Algonquin president Cheryl Jensen. “We train two-thirds of the local healthcare workforce, and new facilities such as this will help ready these learners for our changing healthcare landscape. We thank the Estate of the late Anita Garbarino Girard for this generous gift, and we thank all our partners who have made this beautiful new centre a reality.”
The Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), one of those community partners, has provided more than $365,000 in funding to help cover building and program expenses.
“This innovative partnership is a great example of how we can build programs that contribute to a sustainable healthcare system,” said Chantale LeClerc, Champlain LHIN CEO. “The Smart Apartment program aligns with the LHIN’s goals of ensuring people receive effective, efficient care in the most appropriate setting. Seniors with dementia receive care in a warm, community day-program setting while healthcare workers of the future get the training they need. We congratulate everyone who has worked to bring to life this important new initiative.”
This morning, LeClerc, Jensen, WOCRC representatives, and Robert Boyer — acting on behalf of the Garbarino Girard family — officially unveiled the Centre, which will provide a living lab for students in many disciplines.
The facility will train the next generation of healthcare providers, giving students an unprecedented opportunity to gain experience with cutting-edge healthcare technology while also engaging in applied research projects. Already, the Centre is supporting 30 seniors with dementia — offering a chance for those training to be personal support workers, massage therapists, physiotherapy assistants, chefs, and nurses a chance to interact with people in the community and problem-solve to create innovative solutions for an aging population.
“We know that for most seniors, their preference is to remain living in their homes for as long as possible. And, as a result, there is a focus on providing increased healthcare services in the community,” said Cathy Jordan, Executive Director of the WOCRC, which hosts the day program at the Centre. “This innovative model creates winning opportunities by providing a necessary service for clients, creating a ‘community environment’ for students in a number of programs and a new partnership between our organizations.”
Construction on the Centre started in autumn 2015, with some programming for local seniors beginning in February 2016.

PHOTO: At the Garbarino Girard Centre for Innovation in Seniors Care, Algonquin President Cheryl Jensen, left, chats with Marie-Lison Fougere, Deputy Minister, Francophone Affairs and Seniors Affairs, centre, and a student who will be working with seniors in the new Centre. Photo by Jana Chytilova, Algonquin College.