Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Week
International Psychogeriatric Association

Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Week
1-10 October 2021

7 October: Virtual Behavioural Medicine Webinar


Crafted for Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Week, this webinar highlights a novel model of virtual care developed at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto, Canada called the Virtual Behavioural Medicine Program (VBM).

VBM is essentially a virtual inpatient unit for assessment and management of individuals with severe neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) due to dementia. These individuals are often uprooted from their familiar environments in long-term care (LTC) or the community and transferred to emergency departments, acute care hospitals, or specialized behavioural units which can further exacerbate NPS. VBM works closely with existing care teams to support pharmacological and behavioural interventions.

VBM has been strikingly effective in reducing the proportion of patients who clearly needed admission to a specialized inpatient behavioural unit by 78%. It represents an innovative model of virtual care designed to assess and manage patients with NPS while they remain in their own familiar environment. VBM is a game changer that can reduce preventable emergency department visits and acute care hospital admissions, which are existing pressures further exacerbated by COVID-19. It also helps patient behaviours become more manageable and thus facilitates acceptance into LTC for those in the community and acute care. Moreover, VBM is a scalable model of novel virtual care that can be adopted worldwide.

Presenter: Morris Freedman, MD, FRCPC, FAAN
Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest and University of Toronto


Dr. Morris Freedman is Head of Neurology and Medical Director of Cognition and Behaviour at Baycrest Health Sciences.  He is a Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, and a scientist at the Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest Centre.

Dr. Freedman is carrying out research aimed at improving our understanding of the cognitive mechanisms underlying dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. His research also includes the development of cognitive assessment procedures in dementia, such as the Toronto Cognitive Assessment and the Object Alternation Test.  In addition, he has special expertise in distance learning at a global level using videoconferencing, an area in which he has taken a major leadership role internationally.