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Geriatric Psychiatry

The McMaster University Division of Geriatric Psychiatry has a strong commitment to education, research and scholarly clinical activity. 

The division has established innovative interprofessional clinical teaching units within our model of providing evidence-informed, team- based, patient-centred mental health care to over 200,000 seniors within the St Joseph’s Healthcare West 5th seniors mental health service.  Our students learn in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, outreach and telepsychiatry to remote and underserviced areas. 

Much of our research is integrated with clinical activities, and focuses on improving quality of care and enhancing quality of life for seniors with mental illness. Academic partners include other faculty at McMaster, researchers in other institutions, and organizations in a variety of sectors, patients and family members.

Our faculty play leading roles in local and provincial initiatives for seniors, and have national roles in academic institutions including the Royal College. Together, these opportunities provide rich and stimulating teaching and research environments for undergraduate BHSc students, medical students, clerks, psychiatry residents and for the new Royal College accredited geriatric psychiatry subspecialty training program.


Health services research that aims to improve care and services, maximize patient quality of life, and enhance the patient experience for older adults, particularly for individuals living with dementia and with serious mental illness:

  • Partnerships in Dementia Care (PiDC) Alliance: 5-year research project, funded by a SSHRC – Community University Research Allaince, to assess the process of culture change in long-term care setting; McAiney, C.A. (Co-Principal Investigator); $998,996, 2010-2015.
  • Assessing care models implemented in primary health care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.  5-year research project funded by CIHR and is part of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration and Aging (CCNA); McAiney, C (Co-investigator and Co-Lead for the qualitative study). $1,200,000, 2014-2019.
  • Innovative Community-Based Approaches to Promote Optimal Aging for Older Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions and their Caregivers – Aging, Community and Health Research Network (ACHRU). Program of research funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and CIHR. McAiney, C (Co-investigator and Co-Lead on Study 5). $5,765,903, 2013-2018.
  • Enhancing Learning through a Community of Practice for Seniors Mental Health. Funded by a Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences Innovation Award. Lewis, M (Principal Investigator), Saperson, K., McAiney, C., Bieling, P., Baxter, J (Co-investigators). $4300, 2014-2015.
  • Enabling and Empowering Seniors Affected by Depression Through the Treatment of Behavioural Activation. Funded by a Specialized Geriatric Services (SGS) Grant for Quality Improvement through the Regional Geriatric Program.  Westover, G., Baxter, J., & Gojmerac, C. $5000, 2014-2015.
  • Training and building capacity of residents and staff in the area of cognitive rehabilitation.  Funded by Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences Innovation Award. Saperson, K. (Principal Investigator), Baxter, J., & Gojmerac, C.  $5000, 2014.
  • Luthra, Sunny : Understanding the meaning of behaviours in dementia/major neurocognitve disorders:  new terminology, classification and behavioural management. Published by Aging and Society, a book series by Common Good Publishing


Application to Consumer

Much of the research conducted in the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry is conducted in partnership with other organizations, care providers, persons living with dementia and their family care partners; as a result, research activities are relevant and meaningful, and results have direct impacts on older adults, their family members, providers and partner organizations

  • e.g., working with individuals living with dementia, family care partners, providers and other researchers, we developed a website specifically for persons living with dementia (
  • e.g., through the work of the Partnerships in Dementia Care (PiDC) Alliance, we are identifying processes and resources to support long-term care homes and community agencies to enable fuller participation of persons living with dementia, family care partners and staff in decision making

A number of projects have also been conducted in partnership with policy makers including LHINs and the MOHLTC, enabling research findings to influence health care policy; for example, research conducted with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario on the First Link initiative resulted in Alzheimer Chapters in Ontario receiving funding for their own First Link programs

Key Partnerships

  • Seniors Mental Health Service, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences Program, McMaster University
  • School of Nursing, McMaster University
  • Halton Healthcare
  • Waterloo regional campus
  • Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo
  • Alzheimer Society of Ontario
  • Alzheimer Society of Brant, Haldimand Norfolk, Hamilton and Halton

Other Faculty

  • Carrie McAiney
    • Health services research to improve care for older persons, particularly those living with dementia
  • Karen Saperson
    • Education research to measure and improve assessment methods and feedback for psychiatry residents performance
  • Ana Hategan
    • Medical education (exploring the efficacy of instructional approaches in stimulating trainees’ achievement and application of content knowledge in their evolving CanMEDS roles as clinicians); research in psychogeriatric and psychosomatic care.
  • Christina Gojmerac
    • Clinical research exploring cognition in aging and dementia, and the effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation
  • Sunny Luthra
    • Developing safe pharmacological treatments for BPSD and, understanding the relationship between cognitive impairment and geriatric depression

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