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CAGP Newsletter Letter from founding President of the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry

05 Dec 2016 10:31 AM | CAGP (Administrator)

A silver anniversary! Twenty-five years have rushed by in a blur of activity and achievement. It seems just recently Ken Leclair, Marie France Tourigny-Rivard and Lillian Thorpe sat with me at the front of a room at the Royal York with about 75 of our geriatric psychiatry colleagues to talk about the feasibility of a new Canadian organization as a home for psychiatrists practicing geriatric psychiatry. A year later, we formally declared the formation of the CAGP. North American geriatric psychiatry was coming of age at that point with major developments in the U.S. led by the AAGP and internationally with the formation of the IPA led by Sandy Finkel.  

Despite early challenges and uncertainties, the CAGP has flourished. Most importantly, it has fulfilled what I consider its two most important roles: a professional home for all of us and Canadian geriatric psychiatry, and a strong visible leadership organization to help guide the development of geriatric psychiatry and mental health. Our annual conferences are small jewels of Canadian psychiatry. The CAGP has hosted the two Canadian IPA International Congresses. The 1999 IPA International Congress in Vancouver still stands as one of the top two most successful Congresses in the IPA’s history. With David Conn and Ken LeClair’s leadership, the CAGP led the formation of CCSMH, which has helped fashion key sets of geriatric mental health guidelines on delirium, depression, LTC and suicide. Perhaps most notable has been the persistent and skilled negotiations over almost two decades to catalyze and lead the formation of the subspecialty of geriatric psychiatry in Canada. At a personal level, nothing has given me greater satisfaction than to see this come to fruition. Many were involved along the way, but special thanks needs to go to Melissa Andrew and Cathy Shea who brought this initiative across the finish line with the RCPSC.

In mentioning specific people I am very aware that we could create a long list of outstanding contributors and leaders over the past 25 years to whom we all owe a deep debt of gratitude. I’ll leave it to another time to flesh out the list more completely.

Where might we head now? I would say that a key role for the CAGP is to refine its structures and processes to proactively lead the national discussions now underway in Canada on how to develop mental health systems and services for the elderly. The Mental Health Commission has been a driver for change as has the CPA but, in my view, the CAGP is best positioned to convene the breadth and depth of expertise necessary to deeply inform change. The task is to build on our strong foundations and mount the vision, excitement and, most importantly, the assertiveness necessary to guide the evolution of geriatric mental health and psychiatry in Canada. To do this means setting specific system change goals and establishing the necessary organizational structures, processes and alliances so that we can be proactive in influencing leaders and policy makers.  

So, let’s congratulate ourselves and celebrate our achievements, and then look ahead. We have a lot to do, the people to do it and a bright future for the CAGP as we embark toward our golden anniversary in 2041.  

Warm regards to everyone.                                                                                                               

Joel Sadavoy, MD, FRCPC

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