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People with Dementia Benefit from A Specialized Care Solution

The number of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is at an all-time high. While it is hard for a person living with this disease, in many ways it is even harder for family and friends as they journey alongside. The time will come when a decision will need to be made to move a loved one to a home.

Too often families work extremely hard to keep a loved one at home until the point of an emergency and then everything needs to move quickly. These challenges met Cathy Chapin when her dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Together with her husband Ross, they tried to find a peaceful, person-centred place for her dad to live, ideally together with his wife of 60 years but in the end Cathy’s parents lived separate and apart until he died 2 years later. Cathy says “we realized the care dad needed wasn’t available. We wanted to help other families avoid the pain we endured and decided to build a specialized home ourselves.”

The desire to create a place dedicated to the needs of people with dementia goes back two decades when Ruth Constable (along with the help of her husband Jack and colleague Camille Taylor) opened the original Highview in 1996. It showcased a unique model of care that comes from a place of respect, where the Person and their needs are honoured. Cathy and Ross decided to partner with Ruth in 2002 and build a new specialized care home.

Every person with dementia is different in how their disease progresses but it is widely accepted that loud noises, lots of people and strict demands on time is stressful and overwhelming. At Highview Residences the philosophy of care is resident-focussed. This means that the flow of the day, activities, meals and personal care are driven by the resident and not by an imposed time-schedule. Just 12 to 14 residents live in each cottage creating a small community that fosters familiarity. All bedrooms are private and furnished with the resident’s belongings, allowing the family to create a space that is familiar and like home. Couples can even choose to share a room if they would like to continue to live together. Shorter hallways and natural sitting areas along with a common kitchen and dining room, create a home where residents can be gently cued and participate in activities of daily living.

The kitchen is open and proximal so the sight, sounds and smells of food being prepared by the chef help to cue the resident. “There is always the opportunity to be involved in the preparation of the meals. For some this means helping peel potatoes and for others, it is simply to sit and be involved in what’s happening – just like how people would gather in your kitchen when you have company”, says Joy Birch, Chief Operating Officer. “Residents eat together in a small dining room, an experience that is designed to provide a sense of community and familiarity”.

Highview requests an extensive history of a new resident’s interests and hobbies before they move in. This allows activities to be created that are familiar and more likely to engage them, so they can experience a sense of accomplishment throughout the day. The ratio of staff to resident is higher than average. This helps to ensure resident-centred care and so staff have time to better know the residents they care for.

Family and friends are always welcome to visit which can include a meal or a cup of tea, a walk in the private, secure gardens or sitting together in a porch. Each resident is welcomed by compassionate and caring people who help them settle into this home-like residence, encouraging them to fold laundry and do other household chores just as they may have done in their own home.

As much as Highview Residences is a nurturing home-like setting, security is always a priority. The buildings have been designed to keep residents safe with 24-hour staffing.

“When people walk through the doors, there is a sense of calmness. It is comfortable, welcoming and like your home,” says Birch. “Everything here, from the design of the cottages, the thoughtful and intentional approach to care, and the compassion of our staff helps to improve the quality of life for people with dementia, every day,” she adds.


Joy Birch is the Chief Operating Officer of Highview Residences and has been helping families process and navigate the move for their Person from home to Highview, a specialized care home for people with dementia. Joy draws on personal experiences, research and (mostly) the stories of the families she meets, every day, in the community and at Highview. For more information about Highview Residences, please go to:


Grand Opening Celebration!

Highview Residences Kitchener is holding the Grand Opening Celebration for our new Cedar Creek House!

Join us on Thursday, October 24th from 7:30am to 4:00pm.

Please email us at to RSVP.

Cedar Creek House - Under Construction

Under Construction

Cedar Creek House - Accessible Showers

Accessible Showers

Cedar Creek House - New Leadership Team

New Leadership Team

RSVP for our Grand Opening!

It’s Official!

The names have been chosen!

This time in Honour of the founding-women of Highview.

Highview Kitchener’s Second  Home will be named:

Cedar Creek House – named after the other Creek that flows into our property.

The Cottages within the House will be named:

Bowlby Cottage – In Honour of Cathy Chapin’s mother’s maiden name.

Cooper Cottage – In Honour of Carmen Franklin’s (Gray Franklin’s wife’s) maiden name.

Four Signs it is Time for a Move

Does Someone You Love
Have Dementia?

Within 5 years an estimated 937,000 Canadians will live with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, as many as seventy-four per cent of us know someone with dementia. Not only is it hard for the person living with this disease, it is also hard for their family and friends as they journey together. Families often grapple with “when is it time?” and “we want them to stay at home as long as possible”. With the progression of this disease, the time will come when a decision needs to be made about where to live. That decision comes with a number of questions regarding security, care, emotional and physical health and recreational activities. Signs of advancing dementia will vary for every person, but there are four key traits to watch for that may indicate it’s time to think about making a move.

1. Personal care: Dementia can affect a person’s sense of self, which often results in visible symptoms such as neglected appearance, or a need for prompting of everyday tasks like bathing and grooming.

2. Household maintenance: People living with dementia often find it hard to complete daily tasks, and looking around your loved one’s home can be revealing. An empty refrigerator (or one filled with expired food), mixed up medications, or a scorched pot in the garbage can all reveal that your family member is experiencing difficulty with day-to-day life.

3. Social engagement: When friends and family get together you may notice signs of dementia not otherwise evident. Dementia affects how people express themselves and understand what is being communicated to them. Your loved one may be withdrawn and not engaging with others or could be deflecting questions about recent events. It is then important to ask yourself if they are having trouble remembering the last few days or if they are having difficulty finding the right words to communicate.

4. Spousal protection: When a spouse notices that their partner is having trouble with memory or communication, it is not uncommon for them to attempt to cover up the difficulties by compensating for the dementia. You may notice your father is answering questions for your mother, or that one parent looks to the other for a cue before answering a question.

There are two indicators that a change must happen quickly:

  • If the person with dementia wanders out of their home and is safely returned home. It is a gift that they are safe but a sure sign that it can happen again.
  • The primary caregiver’s health and wellness is changing or declining which changes the whole dynamic of what care is needed.

Too often families work hard to keep a loved one at home as long as possible until the point of an emergency, then everything needs to move quickly. Some research will need to be done such as contacting the South West Local Health Integration Network for an assessment. Next steps could include looking at in-home care services or deciding on a long term care home or a private retirement home.

These questions and challenges met Cathy Chapin when her dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Together with her husband Ross, they tried to find a peaceful, person-centred place for her dad to live with his wife of 60 years. In the end Cathy’s parents lived apart until he died two years later. “We realized the care Dad needed wasn’t available. We wanted to help other families avoid the pain we endured and decided to build a specialized home ourselves”, says Cathy.

Highview is a purpose-built, secure residence that provides specialized care for people with Alzheimer ’s disease and related dementia. Every resident has a private bedroom and en suite bathroom. The goal of care is to create a home-like setting where persons with dementia feel loved and safe, where their needs are met, and where they can engage in meaningful activities.

“I am thrilled that there will be a top quality care option available in our area, for people with dementia” says Michelle Martin, Executive Director, Alzheimer Society of Waterloo Wellington. “Highview offers personalized care designed for each individual’s needs and lifestyles, in an at-home setting”. As much as Highview Residences is a nurturing homelike setting, security is always a priority. The buildings have been designed to keep residents safe, with staff present at all times. Since opening in London over fifteen years ago, Highview Residences has provided exceptional, loving care to many people.“With the Kitchener-Waterloo home open and now expanding, this tradition will continue and we look forward to serving the families, caregivers and residents alike”, says Joy Birch, Chief Operating Officer.

Highview Residences Recognized for Exceptional Dementia Care

Highview Residences’ Chief Operating Officer, Joy Birch, showcases the evidence-based amenities Highview has to offer on CTV News Kitchener.

Joy Birch

Watch the video here!

Highview Residence – Summer Menu 2019

Summer Menu