Welcome to North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services

Helping frail older adults maintain wellness, independence and quality of life in aging

Recent News & Resources

January 25, 2023

#ShowTheLove - Valentine's Day 2023

It’s time to #ShowTheLove to all those in our region who are living or working in long-term care and retirement homes!

North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatrics Services has partnered with Barrie Police and Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County once again to collect Valentine cards for older adults, caregivers and healthcare professionals.

Physical cards can be dropped at either:

  • Barrie Police Headquarters, 110 Fairview Road, Barrie
  • Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, Reception, 500 Church Street, Penetanguishene, ON.

We ask that submissions be made no later than February 8. After that, cards will be distributed on Valentine’s Day to long-term care homes and retirement homes throughout North Simcoe Muskoka.

We also want to share other forms of greetings for older adults.  Photos and videos can be shared on social media using the hashtag #showthelove and tag us on Twitter at @NSM_SGS. Any greetings or wishes will be shared with our long-term care and retirement home residents!

Together we can #showthelove to those in our area.

January 13, 2023

Decision Making Capacity

This session addresses how to determine if the person you are helping support can make decisions; key elements of capacity; relevant legislation; and resources.

December 13, 2022

Behaviour Success Agents - Supporting Patients and Providers

We are excited to announce that we are receiving funding for the remainder of 2022-2023 and hopefully for 2023-2024, to re-establish the Behaviour Success Agents project in North Simcoe Muskoka! This is great news based on findings from our 2016-2017 project.

In late 2016, Behaviour Success Agents were introduced into our region’s acute care hospitals in a time-limited project to support older adults with dementia and responsive behaviours (things like hitting, wandering, aggression, etc.).  The health care professionals assessed patients, helped put plans in place to reduce behaviours, supported staff training and established some guidelines for practice in the hospital.  

During the project some notable findings achieved were:

  • Of the 46% of patients that had physical restraints, there was a 74% reduction in frequency of use during the BSA intervention period;
  • In 58% of cases where patients were receiving ‘as needed’ medication, frequency was reduced by 68%; and,
  • In 12% of cases, new delirium was found during routine screening.

By the end of December 2022 a project workplan and organization agreements will be completed, with position postings and interviews following. January will see team training take place followed by the project launch.

Watch this space for further announcements!

December 9, 2022

Implementing Person Centred Language: How Do I Make It Work?

Allyson Jayaweera discusses the importance of using person-centred language when fostering a therapeutic relationship with older adults. Practical take-aways are highlighted for those conducting a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment and supporting older adults, as well as useful tips for modelling this approach with other partners.

November 18, 2022

Gait Speed: The Sixth Vital Sign

Thanks to Melissa Lang, Physiotherapist from North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services (NSM SGS) for her practical presentation titled Gait Speed: The Sixth Vital Sign.

Melissa provides useful tools and resources on how to:

  • assess gait speed;
  • interpret results; and,
  • understand how gait speed can impact health outcomes.

October 28, 2022

Recognizing NSM SGS Staff - Core Value Awards

Each year, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care recognizes employees who have gone above and beyond the day to day requirements of their position to improve the care of our patients and caregivers.

The Core Value Awards celebrate staff who contribute significantly to the greater good or mission by exemplifying exceptional values-based behaviours. This can be through actions that are simple and special or grand and complex. Nine values were chosen as nomination categories and this year we are pleased to acknowledge and nominate two individuals for awards.

CARING is defined as treating every person with compassionate sensitivity. This may include helping someone obtain knowledge, resolve their needs or positively grow and develop. It may also include demonstrating excellent customer service, supporting their coworkers in challenging times and valuing people by recognizing their importance.

Cindy Kosynski is a Community Clinician with the NSM SGS Community Mental Health team. She has a passion for supporting older adults and consistently goes beyond her regular duties to provide excellent and compassionate care.

Isolation, a serious threat to the well-being of our older adults, challenged many folks during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Mental Health team resumed home visits, they often encountered distressing situations and a particular referral stands out with respect to Cindy’s diligence, excellent person-centred customer service and promotion of dignity for the patient and family.

Cindy was supporting an individual with dementia, and behaviour concerns were identified that could possibly result in injury and/or emergency service support. Cindy spoke with the family and the decision was made to notify the police. With the consent of the family and patient, Cindy spoke with the police about the individual, their diagnosis, safety concerns and ways to mitigate a high-risk situation if police needed to become involved. Safety was the goal for all, while at the same time maintaining the client’s dignity.

Cindy is very supportive of her co-workers. She is happy to jump in and lend a hand, whether it’s as simple as helping out with process questions or more complex challenging clinical situations. Cindy values her teammates and is the first to congratulate or celebrate successes. She demonstrates the mission, vision and values of Waypoint daily and we are pleased to nominate Cindy for the Caring core value award.

COLLABORATION is defined as working together toward a common purpose. This may involve demonstrating strong leadership skills, cooperation with others, or the ability to resolve conflict constructively. It may also include demonstrating best practices, research and evidence, role modelling, mentoring and coaching staff or having knowledge of the role of other team members.

Jenna Davis joined NSM SGS as our first permanent Recreation Therapist just over a year ago resulting not only in a positive impact to the SGS team, but for our clients, families and community partners.

Two prime areas of focus this past year have been – developing and implementing client assessment/consultations and building relationships with community partners through networking and capacity building.

Jenna engaged multiple community partners with the purpose of reducing social isolation in older adults through engagement and activity. Jenna collaborated with the McLaren Art Centre and the Alzheimer Society (Muskoka and Simcoe County) on numerous initiatives. Art kits and activity kits were created for seniors living in the community and long-term care, and large containers of activity supplies were delivered to all NSM long-term care homes.

In addition Jenna, along with the McLaren Art Centre, hosted an event for Leisure Enrichment Teams from different organizations across the region, to collaborate and build capacity related to engaging seniors in art activities. Jenna also collaborated with Georgian College for the Connect Us program to connect older adults and community members of all ages to share stories, interest and skills.

At the height of the pandemic Jenna developed an activity calendar to engage older adults in staying active. The popularity of the design and purpose of this calendar caused it to be shared widely across the province.

Presently Jenna is developing a community of practice in North Simcoe Muskoka for Life Enrichment and Recreation Therapists. Jenna has also been a member of the Therapeutic Recreation of Ontario (TRO) Board of Directors and co-chaired the TRO annual conference this past June. 

Jenna has certainly exemplified the mission, vision and values of Waypoint and NSM SGS in her daily work. She has been the catalyst that has brought many organizations together for the greater good of our NSM older adults. For these reasons and others, we are nominating her for the Collaboration core value award.

October 15, 2022

Tips for Completing a Meaningful Medication Assessment

Thanks to Sandra Zaikos and Karen Cameron, North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services (NSM SGS) pharmacists for their insightful presentation titled Tips for Completing a Meaningful Medication Assessment.

By using a case example, useful tools and resources are shared on how to:

  • approach the assessment of medications as part of the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment;
  • discuss non-adherence considerations;
  • introduce other approaches to assessment; and,
  • list medication causes of common geriatric complaints.

October 1, 2022

Celebrating National Seniors' Day 2022

October 1 has become an occasion for Canadians to celebrate the contributions of seniors in our homes, communities and workplaces.

In 2016, there were approximately 101,660 seniors—ages 65 years and older—living in Simcoe Muskoka, up from 82,475 seniors from 2011 – 18% in Simcoe and 25.5% in Muskoka. This was a 23.3% increase, the fastest growing age group. (Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit)

North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services (NSM SGS) supports older adults living with frailty/complex health conditions. We believe that older adults should have the resources they need to live well, while continuing to be engaged in our communities.

One of the ways NSM SGS is working to help improve access to these resources is the recent addition of information for older adults and their caregivers on our website.

Here, older adults and their caregivers will find information on:

  • NSM healthcare providers and other partners who support seniors;
  • Initiatives on how to stay active and engaged; and,
  • Resources for those who want to learn more about how to address challenges facing older adults.

North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services (NSM SGS) would like to take the opportunity to thank all seniors for being such an important influence in our communities!

You can participate as well. Show your gratitude by:

  • Simply saying ‘thankyou’
  • Visiting them where they are
  • Taking a walk together
  • Treating them to a day out
  • Cooking a meal together

 “Take time today, and every day, to recognize and celebrate the amazing seniors in your life!” – Annalee King, Manager, Geriatric Mental Health – Community, NSM SGS.

Thanks to the Victoria Harbour Girl Guide and Pathfinder troop for the picture of the cards they made! NSM SGS clinicians will be distributing the cards throughout the North Simcoe region as they make home visits to our clients.

September 9, 2022

Putting your Hand in the Hand of the Older Adult: Completing a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment

In her presentation, Putting your Hand in the Hand of the Older Adult: Completing a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA), Julie Carthew, NSM SGS NP, provides an introduction to the CGA as the evidence based, gold standard in managing frailty in older adults.

Julie notes that the CGA isn’t just an assessment tool, but also includes a management plan as well as action items for moving forward. The CGA has proven to improve outcomes for older adults by maintaining independence and improving function and cognition. She talks about the importance of having a conversation with the older adult, creating a therapeutic rapport, and determining what is important to the individual.

 Julie offers practical tips for initiating the CGA, starting with offering your hand and seeking that permission to connect. While the clinician is joining the older adult, they are observing throughout the interaction. Julie provides a tool, entitled the Geriatric 5Ms by Molnar, Huang & Tinetti, and reminds the attendees that the CGA isn’t just a checklist but a process. 

February 14, 2022

Changes to Geriatric Medicine Services

This communication provides notice to partners of the following changes within the North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services (NSM SGS) program effective February 14, 2022.
•  A new NSM SGS program Referral Form
•  Changes in access to geriatric medicine team services across NSM sub-regions.


The NSM SGS program was established in 2016 to advance the care of frail older adults and caregivers in the NSM region. Since 2016 we have been redesigning our services and building partnerships with area providers. Early redesign work focused on our geriatric mental health team. More recently, we have been redesigning our geriatric medicine team by broadening our original focus on falls (through the Integrated Regional Falls Program – IRFP) to a more comprehensive geriatric medicine focus. As part of the redesign, we received approval from Ontario Health Central Region to sunset our Integrated Regional Falls Program (IRFP). This is an important next step in creating an innovative service that can work with our sub-region Ontario Health Team partners to advance local integrated specialized geriatric medicine services for frail older adults and their caregivers. The redesign plan:
•  Is supported by our regional Seniors Health Working Group, a sub-committee of the Central Ontario Health Team for Specialized Populations;
•  Aligns with our clinical design hub-and-spoke model and advances the integration of specialized geriatric medicine and geriatric mental health services across the region; and,
•  Helps us continue to improve patient outcomes, build system capacity, make better use of specialized resources and, over time, simplify access to specialized geriatric services.


NSM SGS Referral Form: Effective February 14, 2022 we will be using a new referral form for our program and services. We recognize it will take time for partners to transition to the new form. As we receive old forms we will follow-up with referring sources to ensure they are aware a new form is available. A pdf fillable form is attached. It can also be found on the Clinical Services page of our website www.nsmsgs.ca
Geriatric Medicine Services:
•  All referrals received in our Central Intake are reviewed and triaged to the most appropriate available specialized geriatric service based on patient needs.
•  The NSM SGS program has been working with local partners to better integrate geriatric medicine team services across all sub-regions. This work is at varying stages of progress.
•  As of February 14, 2022 the NSM SGS program will sunset IRFP and complete any outstanding referrals on our waitlist over the coming months. During this transition period, access to geriatric medicine team services will vary across NSM sub-regions.

View the memo below to learn more about how to access Geriatric Medicine team services for each area within North Simcoe Muskoka.

February 11, 2022

Keeping Older Adults in Long Term Care Homes Engaged & Active Amid Omicron

Residents of area long-term care homes have endured a long, hard two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over that time, there were lockdowns that prevented them from seeing family and friends and many activities in their homes were modified or even canceled to align with public health measures. These changes have all had a significant impact on our older adults.

“The restrictions in these settings that are meant to keep older adults safe are also resulting in isolation and loneliness,” says Sandra Easson-Bruno, Director, North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized

Geriatrics Services. “As we make our way through this wave, it’s really important that we keep these older adults active and engaged. It’s so important for their physical, mental and emotional health”.

“For those living with dementia, staying socially engaged and being cognitively stimulated are key to overall quality of life,” Laura Lynn Bourassa, Manager of Education and Support Programs with the Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County adds.

To support the residents and staff of area long-term care homes, the Alzheimer Society of Muskoka, Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County and North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services partnered together to develop Grab & Go Activity Kits. These kits, which included things like games, art materials, CD players, activity sheets and more, were delivered to all 31 long-term care homes across the Simcoe County and Muskoka region, including Parry Sound.

“During these restrictive periods we saw persons living with dementia experience greater cognitive decline,” says Bourassa. “These kits aim to provide opportunities for enrichment to ward off the negative effects of isolation.”

At the Bob Rumball Home for the Deaf in Barrie, the kits came at the perfect time.

“Receiving this activity kit was a huge blessing,” says Jessica Dyke, Coordinator of Programs at the home. “When the residents are alone in their rooms you can really see that lack of stimulation makes them decline faster. These activities are great to keep their minds active and encourage staff to participate with them and interact more.”

The Pines in Muskoka extended “a huge thank you for the recent donation. As you know, these are challenging times right now and to have extra resources for our residents will provide many hours of sensory stimulation. The staff and residents were excited to see the markers, fidget items, stuffed animals, stereos etc... Thank you for the great work that you do for our community!”

January 19, 2022

#Showthelove to LTCH and RH Residents in NSM

#ShowTheLove to Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes in North Simcoe Muskoka 

The North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services (NSM SGS) program is encouraging North Simcoe Muskoka residents, groups and organizations to participate in a campaign aimed at lifting the spirits of those living and working in long-term care and retirement homes.

COVID-19, and the Omicron variant, has impacted everyone but especially older adults in long-term care homes and retirement homes.

“For nearly two years, older adults in care homes have been limited in the way they can interact with family and friends as a result of COVID-19 and ongoing restrictions. For many, activities in their homes have been reduced or stopped again to minimize the risk and spread of Omicron. This has resulted in isolation and a real sense of loneliness for so many residents and their loved ones,” says Sandra Easson-Bruno, Director of the NSM SGS program.

Last year, the first #ShowtheLove campaign was an overwhelming success with so many people and partners joining in around our region. It brought hope and joy to many of those living and working in these care homes. Because of that, the NSM SGS program is asking local communities to join the campaign for the second year. Join us the week of February 14th – 18th

  •  Participate in our social media campaign and post a video message, photo, letter or piece of art to social media channels, using #ShowtheLove and #NSMSGS between February 14 - 18. The messages will be sent to care homes and shared on various social media channels in a compilation video.
  •  Write letters, draw pictures and/or make small signs of support and encouragement for residents and staff and deliver them to a care home in your community. Mark them as #ShowTheLove and remember to mask and physically distance when you drop them off!
  •  McLaren Art Centre will partner with NSM SGS to help collect and distribute cards, encouraging local students to take part.


According to the Public Health Ontario Daily Epidemiological Summary, from the period January 15, 2020 to January 16, 2022:

  • At least 150,784 individuals age 60+ have been identified as having COVID, representing 15.8%of all cases.
  • 9,733 individuals age 60+ have died from COVID, representing 91.6% of all COVID-related deaths.
  • 2,002 Long-Term Care Homes and 1,260 Retirement Homes in the province have been declared in outbreak.
  • 18,984 residents and 8,632 health care workers in long-term care homes have been identified as having COVID. There have been 4,112 deaths in LTC residents (representing 38.7% of all deaths) and 10 health care worker deaths attributed to COVID.

For information, or to arrange a virtual or phone interview about the initiative, contact:

Sandra Easson-Bruno, Director, North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services seasson-bruno@nsmsgs.ca

Tel: 705-417-2192 x5102

January 10, 2022

Ensuring North Simcoe Muskoka Seniors Remain Safe Amid COVID-19

The North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services program, Alzheimer Society Muskoka, Alzheimer Society Simcoe County, Prevention of Seniors Abuse Network Simcoe County and Barrie Police want to ensure that older adults and their caregivers remain safe amid continued COVID-19 restrictions. 

With the Omicron variant causing COVID-19 cases to rise again in the region and province, restrictions will continue to isolate our older adults and their caregivers. Rising cases, fewer health care providers, renewed restrictions, shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures, can contribute to several key safety concerns for our older adults: 

  • Wandering – for older adults with dementia who may wander, their health and well-being is at risk if they wander from their homes without the knowledge of their caregivers; 
  • Elder Abuse – for caregivers, the burden of care can become stressful putting older adults at risk for intentional or unintentional elder abuse, including neglect.
  • Cyber-security – for older adults and caregivers who are relying more on technology to stay connected with loved ones and to support contact with health care providers, cyber-security is a risk. 

Across the region a variety of resources do exist to support older adults and caregivers reduce risk, like the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s Finding Your Way program, MedicAlert®Safely Home® program, Project Lifesaver, It’s Not Right resources targeting elder abuse, and both Cyber-Seniors and Telus-Wise which promote cyber safety. 

Be a good neighbour. If you know or suspect an older adult and/or caregiver is at risk, reach out to offer a hand. You can also encourage families and friends to access the resources available online. Together, we can ensure we keep our seniors as safe as possible during COVID-19! 

For information on caring for seniors, please visit the NSM SGS website’s COVID-19 web page. 

Learn more about resources available in the document linked below. 

January 7, 2022

Activity Challenge Calendar

The Activity Toolkit for Seniors has been developed for seniors who are impacted by COVID-19 - those who live independently at home, with family at home, in a retirement home or long-term care home in North Simcoe Muskoka.

View our Activity Toolkit below to learn more. 

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