The Cowan Foundation supports new specialized memory care program

The Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) is pleased to announce the launch of a specialized memory care program in collaboration with the Centre for Family Medicine Family Health Team and Schlegel Villages. This program is made possible through a generous donation from The Cowan Foundation and will be offered in Kitchener, Guelph, Etobicoke and Whitby.

The first program will be offered at the Village of Winston Park in Kitchener starting in April. It will be available to residents living within the Village as well as those living in the surrounding community.  The program utilizes an interprofessional approach for early diagnosis and treatment of memory loss, together with weekly sessions to develop specific evidence-based memory strategies and skills.

“It is the first time that a proven interprofessional model for assessment and support of memory loss is offered together with a leading-edge program to develop skills and strategies that help patients and families live full lives with some degree of cognitive impairment”,   said Dr. Mike Sharratt, President of the RIA.

One of the component programs was developed by Dr. Linda Lee at the Centre for Family Medicine.  Dr. Lee’s Memory Clinic has received international acclaim for its innovativeness and proven impact, and Dr. Lee and the CFFM have received numerous awards for this work, including a Regional Geriatric Program Service Award for Geriatric Excellence, Regional Family Physician of the Year, Family Practice of the Year, and Family Health Team Bright Lights Awards for improving patients’ experience of care.

“Unlike most Memory Clinics that are dependent on a limited number of specialists, this program builds capacity within family practice with an interprofessional team that includes a family physician, social worker, nurse, and pharmacist, with integrated specialist support”, explained Dr. Linda Lee. “This means that many more people can be diagnosed earlier and supports can be put in place, with the aim of improving quality of life, reducing caregiver burnout, and reducing health care costs”.

The second component program was developed by Baycrest and has successfully operated for 10 years in Toronto. This 10-hour program, delivered in weekly sessions, presents information about how memory changes with age and teaches practical, evidence-based memory strategies. Topics include the difference between “normal” and “not-normal” memory changes, physical activity and memory, stress and memory, nutrition and memory and more.

The program’s impacts will be evaluated in its first year of operation and decisions about continuation and expansion will be made based on those results.

“The new memory program that the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) is launching has the potential to improve the lives of those affected by memory loss and their families”, said Heather McLachlin, President, Cowan Insurance Group. “By donating $100,000 to this program, we are supporting an important initiative that will impact the communities of Kitchener, Guelph, Etobicoke and Whitby directly and communities across Canada, through shared learning.”

About Schlegel Villages

The Ron Schlegel family of Kitchener owns and operates 12 continuum of care villages that are home to over 3,000 seniors.  Schlegel Villages are community hubs in each of the cities in which they are located, and are proven leaders in quality and innovation in seniors living and care. The Schlegel family has committed over 40 Million dollars towards philanthropic projects designed to enhance quality of care and quality of life for seniors living in long-term care and retirement living, including a substantial “teaching long-term care” development on the campus of the University of Waterloo, slated to open in 2015.

About the RIA

The RIA ( is a non-profit charitable foundation created by Dr. Ron Schlegel to promote research and practice relevant to aging. The RIA attracts research projects to “living research environments” within long-term care and retirement facilities, with a view to immediate translation of research to practical training application, resident care, and resident quality of life.

About the Centre for Family Medicine Family Health Team

The Centre for Family Medicine Family Health Team was established in 2005 as one of Ontario’s first Family Health Teams and was named the inaugural Ontario Practice of the Year in 2008.  It offers comprehensive continuing care to a population of approximately 25,000
patients in 4 practice sites in Kitchener, Waterloo and Wellesley with services provided by family physicians working collaboratively with a wide array of health professionals.

About the Cowan Foundation

The Cowan Foundation ( was started in 1995 in honour of Frank Cowan, the founder of Cowan Insurance Group and Frank Cowan Company. The Foundation is sustained by the ongoing success of the Princeton Holdings group of companies including Cowan Insurance Group, Frank Cowan Company, The Guarantee Company of North America and Millennium CreditRisk Management. Together they provide insurance and risk management products and services for individuals, businesses, organizations and public entities as well as assist employers with their group benefits, retirement and health and disability management plans.  The goal of The Cowan Foundation is to make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians and the broader well-being of our communities.

Contact information:

Josie d’Avernas
Vice President, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
519-571-1873 x127

Lynne Short
Director, Communications and Community Relations
The Cowan Foundation/ Princeton Holdings Limited
519-650-6363 x31608