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Work started on centre of excellence for innovation in aging

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WATERLOO, ON, Nov. 13, 2013 /CNW/ - Ground was broken for a pioneering innovation institute for aging on the north campus of the University of Waterloo today. The initiative will help Canada better prepare for an aging population.

The new development will bring long-term care, research, and teaching activities together on the University of Waterloo campus to improve seniors' living and train the next generation of front-line staff.

The $376 million project is the joint vision of local entrepreneur and philanthropist Ron Schlegel and the University of Waterloo. The project brings together the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA), Schlegel Villages, the University of Waterloo and Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning to address the growing urgency for innovation in elder care in Canada.

"We are building an infrastructure for innovation in aging that is unparalleled anywhere in the world," said Ron Schlegel, a former Waterloo professor. "The total infrastructure will consist of this lead village on the university campus, combined with 13 other Schlegel Villages across South and Central Ontario to form a powerful paradigm for research and real time application."

Construction of the two new facilities - the Schlegel Villages Waterloo Long-Term Care Home and the RIA - comes as Ontario's health care system faces emerging challenges, as the seniors population in the province will double over the next two decades.

"Improving how we care for older Ontarians is high priority for our government. This world-class facility will not only provide our seniors with a wide range of living options, but will also create a learning environment where innovative best practices will be developed and can be spread across the province and beyond. Seniors everywhere will reap the benefits," said Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

"I am very pleased to see Waterloo Region applying its spirit of innovation to the important issue of aging," said John Milloy, MPP for Kitchener Centre. "The RIA will be a leader in developing and implementing research and training programs for our aging population."

In August, the University of Waterloo announced that aging research would become one of three research priority areas.

"These new facilities will help students and researchers address some of the questions that Canada is faced with as our population grows older," said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice chancellor of Waterloo. "There is an urgent need to develop new knowledge and talent to tackle the oncoming tsunami of aging-relating problems across the globe. These innovative new facilities will allow us to shed new light on some of the challenges we face as we grow old."

The first of its kind in Canada, the arrangement will allow Waterloo faculty, researchers, and students to work alongside Conestoga College personal-care students and practical nurses on projects informed by residents' feedback.  The research and training will impact front-line care, shape curricula and build capacity within the aged-care sector.

"This new Centre will be instrumental in the development of innovative training models to prepare future generations of health care professionals and enhance the quality of life and care for older adults across our community and beyond," said John Tibbits, president of Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. "We look forward to working with our partners to address the urgent need for a highly skilled workforce that can address the care needs of our aging population."

"The magic of this arrangement is that front line staff will interface with university and college students and researchers, all of whom will mingle with residents of the new Village," said Michael Sharratt, president of the RIA and research professor (emeritus) at Waterloo. "Today we officially launch our campaign to raise capital funds to support the construction of this wonderful facility. We have already raised more than half of our $9 million fundraising target."

The University of Waterloo and Conestoga College have a long history of partnership with the RIA. Waterloo, a founding partner of the RIA, holds Schlegel Research Chair positions in Geriatric Medicine, Geriatric Pharmacotherapy, Vascular Aging and Brain Health, and Nutrition and Aging. As the RIA's primary practice development partner, Conestoga College professor Veronique Boscart holds the CIHR/Schlegel Industrial Research Chair in Seniors Care for Colleges.

Over the next 10 years, Ron Schlegel plans to fund at least 10 more Schlegel Research Chairs to support relevant research themes and equip the country with the strategies to manage an aging population.

Construction on the two facilities is set to complete by mid-2015.

About the University of Waterloo

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.

About the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging

The Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging was created in 2005 as a senate-approved research institute at the University of Waterloo, then became a non-profit charitable organization in 2006 with core partnerships with University of Waterloo, Conestoga College and Schlegel Villages.  The RIA conducts research aimed at enhancing the care, health and wellness of older adults in community-based and long-term care environments. The 3,000 residents living in 13 Schlegel Villages provide voluntary and vibrant living research environments and living classroom environments.  The best of what is learned in these environments is disseminated broadly to benefit older adults everywhere.

For more information go to www.the-ria.ca

About Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning

Conestoga is Ontario's fastest growing college and a leader in polytechnic education, providing a full range of career-focused education, training and applied research programs to prepare students for success in the new knowledge economy and promote economic prosperity throughout our region and across Ontario.  The college provides more than 200 career-focused programs, including degrees, diplomas and post-graduate certificates, and is a provincial leader in the provision of apprenticeship training. With campuses and training centres in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Stratford, Ingersoll and Brantford, Conestoga serves 11,000 full-time students. Continuing education courses and programs attract more than 30,000 enrolments each year.   For more information, visit www.conestogac.on.ca

SOURCE University of Waterloo

Image with caption: "Aerial view rendering of the new $367 million centre of excellence for innovation in aging on the University of Waterloo north campus. Construction started today on the centre of excellence, which is made up of the Schlegel Villages Waterloo Long-Term Care Home and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging. (CNW Group/University of Waterloo)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131113_C7093_PHOTO_EN_33330.jpg



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