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Community Advisory Council

The Community Advisory Council (CAC) is a group of older adults and care partners who advise and make key decisions on the SMARTech project. Drawing upon their own lived experience and expert knowledge they provide insight and guidance on the project and outputs to ensure that older adult needs and desires are considered. 


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Trudie Helmke

Trudie Helmke is a resident living in Long-Term-Care and lives with a neurological disease called inclusion body myocytitis, which falls under the Multiple Sclerosis umbrella. As a result of living with this disease, over time she has lost the use of her legs and one hand, and now has minimal mobility in her other hand. Trudie was an early participant in the SMARTECH project when it began in Halifax and was blown away by the benefits that Smart Technology brought to her own life. Trudie was able to control the height, and head/foot positioning of her bed with this technology, which resulted in staff no longer needing to manually reposition her every 2 hours. Though technology functions and accessibility have increased over time, Trudie feels that technology bridges gaps between maintaining independence or loss thereof, as with modified technology one does not have to ask others to complete activities on their behalf. She believes that one’s quality of life and dignity outcomes are so much better when someone can engage in skills, projects, and activities that they used to engage in prior to ageing and disease progression.

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Ken Clahane

Ken Clahane retired in 2008  after a career in the property-casualty insurance industry at the age of 54.

In 2011 he went back to work developing and instructing insurance management certification courses for a small college and a  large financial institution, fulfilling a dream to teach.

Ken graduated with a B. Comm from Saint Mary’s University in 1976. While working full-time he continued studying risk management currently holding a Canadian Risk management designation. He is a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of Canada where he served two terms as vice-chair. During those years he helped develop and implement a 2-year adult education certification program for the Institute's national instructors.

For the last 5 years, he has been a caregiver for both his parents while they completed their life journey.

He and his wife Patricia of 44 years have two adult children.

Ken and Pat search the world on pilgrimages yearly along with supporting the people of Cuba and volunteering at ESL schools in Europe and the Caribbean.

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Bessie Harris

A graduate of the University of Toronto with a Master of Social Work Degree, Bessie spent most of her career working for the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services in mental health services and in various senior management positions within the Department.  Following her retirement, she started her own consulting business working with various software development companies in marketing and design of systems for social service agencies and departments throughout Canada.  In addition, she was also involved in program evaluation for various agencies and the Federal Government.


In both her professional and personal life Bessie has been always involved with and interested in all aspects of aging and care of older persons with a focus on quality of life whether in independent living, assisted living, an institutional setting or at home in the community.  Currently she is a caregiver for her sister who is in her nineties.


Her volunteer work with AGE-WELL started with her involvement in OA-INVOLVE several years ago.  This was a rewarding experience and one which provided a broader view of the possibilities that technological developments hold for enhancing the life of older persons of all ages and in a variety of situations.  It also provided an opportunity for meaningful input and insight with researchers on ways to approach and utilize the knowledge and skills of older adults.  The journey and involvement in research and development with and for older adults is continuing with her current participation as a volunteer on the Community Advisory Committee of SMARTech.  

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Abby Clarke Caseley

Abby Clarke Caseley is a Registered Social Worker with the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, and works with Northwood as the Client Relations Coordinator. Abby spends her time supporting clients and families connected to Northwood’s various service areas including its Long-Term Care facilities, Homecare, InTouch, and the Adult Dementia Day Programs, ensuring that the “Lived Experience” is heard, acknowledged, and respected. Issues surrounding dignity, autonomy, and navigation are commonly brought forward by clients, staff, and family caregivers. In these circumstances, Abby helps to clarify the various processes and barriers in place, and works with the team to implement client-centered solutions. In addition, Abby works with Northwood’s leadership teams to ensure that the Client and Family Experience is centermost to its work, and passes along concerns and feedback heard from clients and families. As the daughter of an early IT worker, and the partner of a present day IT worker, Abby knows first-hand the benefits that modern-day technology can bring, and is an advocate for the benefits it brings to those who are most vulnerable in our society.

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Ian Goldman

In 2010 Ian retired from working with teams on information technology projects for large and small organizations: this involved collaborating with a range of people in evaluating and deploying software to improve their processes. He then began working in various senior centres showing clients how to use software and apps e.g. Facebook, Google Apps, Zoom to stay connected with family, and pursue their interests. He also acted as a co-facilitator for the Minds in Motion program for Alzheimer Society Toronto. Since 2016 he has provided lived experience to several innovation projects for technology in aging, and enabling digital literacy, through AGE-WELL and the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) at Baycrest.  Born in Leeds, U.K. where he “distance managed” care to his Mum for her 8 year journey through dementia, Ian loves to travel, learn, and share the experiences with those he works with. He holds a degree in Natural Sciences for Chemical Engineering from Cambridge University.

Alisa Grigorovich

Alisa Grigorovich


Alisa Grigorovich is a critical gerontologist and a health services and policy researcher. Her research program focuses on the role of stigma and other social factors in driving health inequity in institutional and home care settings. A key interest of hers concerns the ethical, social and policy implications of introducing technology-based innovations to improve quality of care and quality of life for older adults.

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Pia Kontos

Pia Kontos


Pia Kontos is a senior scientist at KITE-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, and Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the stigma associated with dementia and aging, and on the implementation and evaluation of arts-based innovations and intelligent technologies to improve the quality of care and quality of life for older adults living with disabilities.

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Amanda Jenkins

Amanda Jenkins


Dr. Amanda Jenkins is the Community Engagement Manager at AGE-WELL and a Research Coordinator for OA-INVOLVE 2 (Older Adults' Active Involvement in Aging & Technology Research and Development). She holds a PhD in Applied Social Psychology from the University of Guelph and has a background in community-based research. She is a proponent of engaging community members in research in meaningful ways throughout the research process. 

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Ashley-Ann Marcotte

Ashley-Ann Marcotte

Research Coordinator

Ashley-Ann Marcotte is a Research Coordinator for Susan Kirkland at Dalhousie University. She has a Master's degree in Community Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University where she focused on healthcare access for LGBTQIA+ communities. She has an interest in Community Based Research and values community and partner engagement.  

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