How a Winnipeg health-care facility is improving quality of life for those living with dementia

A Winnipeg health-care facility and personal care home is taking big strides to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.

The new Alzheimer’s Centre of Excellence at Riverview Health Centre, which is a pavilion, has developed an approach to tap into the needs of residents experiencing severe brain changes.

The centre said it’s the first of its kind for people with dementia in Manitoba.

There is space for 60 residents inside four secured living quarters. It has been designed to spark people’s memory so residents can easily find their unit. 

Each wing has its own theme, every door has a different design, and there is an iPad to display pictures of the resident’s family members and pets. 

Alzheimer’s Centre of Excellence at

(Source: Beth Macdonell/CTV News Winnipeg)

Cindy Rodych, interior designer and the project manager, said it’s important to give as many cues as possible. 

“One cue for me may be enough, but for them we need to give repeated cues to allow then to really recognize where they are. And if they don’t know where they are, then they start maybe rummaging through another person’s room looking for something that is their own room,” said Rodych.

In communal areas, circadian lighting has been installed to promote hormones in the brain and help residents maintain a normal wake-sleep schedule. Bubble towers have been installed to help residents stay calm, and some doors have been designed to look like book shelves to help prevent exit-seeking.

New pavilion for residents to roam freely

The new pavilion is a large room with a kitchen, seating and outdoor patio for residents to move around on their own.

There are also activity stations to peak residents’ different interests: people can interact with a doll, work in an office setting or use tools in a workshop. 

Alzheimer’s Centre of Excellence

(Source: Beth Macdonell/CTV News)

Andrea Meakin, director of resident care services, said residents will be able to roman through nearly 8,000 square feet. She said this is a “huge improvement.”

“Keeping residents locked in a tight environment can cause a lot of anxiety and stress, and now they can explore freely throughout the day,” she said.

Bob Loiselle’s brother lives with vascular dementia and moved in two weeks ago.

“I think they are fabulous,” he said.

“The population is aging. My brother is only 66. That’s young for dementia. Things are happening and I think we need more space and the quality of care Riverview gives.”

Riverview Health Centre is run by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. To make the Alzheimer’s Centre of Excellence a reality, $9.5 million was raised through private donations. 

Construction is expected to be completed in October.

The wait to get spot can range between weeks and months, depending on the person, the centre said.