Our Advisors

phyllisfehr.png
Phyllis Fehr

Phyllis Fehr was given a working diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s at 53 years old. Phyllis worked first as an ICU nurse and then as a dementia human rights activist, strategist, policy creator, changer, researcher, teacher, mentor and more.  Since the diagnosis, Phyllis commits much of her time doing anti-stigma work related to dementia and promotes the rights and abilities of people living with dementia locally, nationally and internationally. Her work policy work includes past member of the Ontario Dementia Advisory board, Advisory Group for the Ontario Dementia strategy and the Early Stage Working Group.  

 

Her work includes co-author of multiple research articles and keynote speaking on the lived-experience of dementia, human rights and anti-stigma education. Phyllis spoke at the United Nations - the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and at the Senate of Canada, Social Affairs, Science and Technology. The World Health Organization on Non- communicable diseases.

 

She is currently a patient advisory to the Alzheimer’s Board for BHNHH. She is a current board member of Reimagining Dementia: A Creative Coalition for Justice, Dementia Advocacy Canada: Human Rights Action Team Lead, Dementia Alliance International Alumni and provides local leadership to the Empowering Dementia-friendly Communities Hamilton, Haldimand project.

Ron1.jpg
Ron Beleno

Ron Beleno is a dementia advocate and advisor with over 10 years of lived experience as a dementia caregiver. Ron currently Co-Chairs AGE-WELL's Older Adult and Caregiver Advisory Committee. He is an experienced public speaker who has given numerous keynote speeches and guest lectures on dementia caregiving. Ron volunteers his time advising several dementia and healthcare organizations. He is an entrepreneur, innovator, and an avid vegetable gardener.

 

Why do you love Green Care Farms?

The beauty of a Green Care Farm is that it can provide the ideal environment for those with cognitive challenges, an activity that many people already love and enjoy, which is gardening. With very limited programs and dementia-friendly destinations offered  to those with dementia and their care partners that are outdoors, gardening is very relatable to many and can be quite simple to pick up if someone is new to it.

Scott-3041 - lowres.jpg
Scott Russell

Scott Russell is a social sector change agent who leads with passion, building high-performing teams that tackle complex problems, every day.  As the CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Toronto (AST), Scott works to improve the services and community support available to caregivers and people living with dementia.  During the current pandemic, Scott has led with a strategic mindset and a calm and steady hand, fostering innovative adaptations to programs and services, initiating new collaborative partnerships and overperforming against fundraising expectations.  He has navigated the short term turmoil with a long view toward future sustainability for AST.

 

Scott also volunteers his expertise, as a consultant and Board member with Management Advisory Services of Ontario (MAS), a pro bono consulting firm dedicated to enabling a thriving voluntary sector. 

 

Why do you love Green Care Farms?

Meaningful social inclusion might be the most important thing we can do for people short of a cure. Innovative models like Greencare are badly needed in the community.

Shier Headshot.jpg
Dr. Michael Shier 

Dr. Michael Shier is an Associate Professor with the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Dr. Shier has expertise in social innovation, social entrepreneurship, social enterprises, social financing, and nonprofit management and leadership.

 

Why do you love Green Care Farms?

Green Care Farms is an important socially innovative initiative that provides supports to people with dementia in a new way that has been missing within our current social and health service delivery systems. It provides a clear opportunity to support people in a meaningful way that will have a big social impact for people with dementia.  

Peggy headshot.jpeg
Peggy Chi

OALA CSLA 

PhD (c) at the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation

Peggy Chi is a landscape architect (OALA CSLA) and a PhD candidate in health services research with the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation (IHPME) at the University of Toronto. Peggy has specialized training in Dementia Care Mapping. She published a conceptual framework on healthcare natural environments and developed an instrument to measure the natural environment in long-term care homes.

 

Her research examines the influence of these environments on residents' mental health and well-being, and job stress among nurses and personal support workers across 83 long-term care home areas. She has helped long-term care homes develop evidence-based design visions and program interventions to optimize the use of outdoor environments in care delivery. Prior to research, she designed urban parks, masterplans, transportation infrastructures, commercial buildings, and residential buildings located in Canada, the UK, Italy, and Saudi Arabia. 

 

Why do you love Green Care Farms?

Research on Green Care Farm has shown many positive effects on health outcomes. This approach, substantiated by evidence, is promising for seniors living in Ontario. These activities offer meaning, purpose, and a sense of connection to nature.  

Faye 97 2018.jpg
Dr. Faye Mishna

Dr. Faye Mishna is Professor and former Dean (2009-2019) at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work,  University of Toronto. She is an experienced researcher and academic cross-appointed to the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Mishna has held significant leadership roles managing complex organizations dedicated to mental health and human services. Drawing from these roles, she contributes strategic directional insights and operational expertise to future trending initiatives in social work such as Green Care Farms. 

 

Why do you love Green Care Farms?

It is crucial that we endorse the varied provision of programs for people living with neurodivergence. Green Care Farms supports the holistic health of people living with dementia while providing respite to loved ones providing care. While the evidence illustrating the benefits of connecting with nature is clear, safe and supported outdoor opportunities for vulnerable populations remain limited. In our increasingly digital world, moving social and health care sectors towards enabling therapeutic engagement with nature is more important than ever. 

  

raza.png

Raza M. Mirza, PhD received his MSc and doctorate degrees from the Graduate department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toronto's Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. He has been an invited speaker at national and international gerontology and geriatrics conferences, workshops and symposiums, and has consulted with various levels of government on diverse issues related to an aging population. Dr. Mirza currently works in research at the University of Toronto's Institute for Life Course and Aging as an Assistant Professor (Status), and is the Network Manager for the non-profit organization the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE; www.nicenet.ca), an international knowledge transfer network in the field of aging. He is the lead for the Canada HomeShare Program, and has been a collaborator for projects related to elder abuse victims support, the experiences of persons living with dementia, ageism, and financial literacy initiatives aimed at empowering older adults to support one-another.

 

Why do you love Green Care Farms?

Green Care Farms is a great example of a person-centred initiative that bridges the health and social care needs of those living with dementia and their care partners. Natural outdoor settings are an important aspect of many of our lives -  this is no different for persons living with dementia - and Green Care Farms will provide an important platform for reconnecting with nature that may improve quality of life, lower stress responses, and overall well-being.

Dr. Raza Mirza
headshot Maarten (1).jpg
Maarten Fischer

Maarten Fischer is currently the director of the National Federation of Dutch Care farms: www.zorgboeren.nl). We provide advocacy, a national quality standard, support innovation and an academy for the more than 900 Care farms in our membership. This is the largest federation of care farms in the Netherlands. Apart from our work in the Netherlands we also are involved in several international exchange programs, ranging from several countries in Europe to Japan and South Korea.  Maarten is also the director of the George Avenue Foundation in Switzerland, dedicated to the development of Care farms: www.georgeavenuefoundation.ch). Maarten works at the Noaber Foundation (www.noaber.com) where we support care farm programs in Israel, own two care farms in the Netherlands and support projects in the area of Green Care (www.elevenfloawers.com). Maarten's work currently involves my work for the Noaber Foundation to stimulate the transition from a Dutch health care model to a Health based system.

 

Why do you love Green Care Farms?

I love Care farming because regardless of where you are, magic happens when people who otherwise struggle to fit into society spend time on the farm: nature, the structure of the day, the ability for all people to contribute somehow, meaningful days and the natural fit into a community of people, plants and animals. I have so many wonderful stories of people living with Dementia/Alzheimers in care farm program that it is difficult to pick. I remember stories of family members quoting the time on the care farm as a way to connect with their aging parents like never before, people with very short memory spans proclaiming at the end of the day "I don't remember what I did, but I like it!" and people who had lost their ability to perform many ADL's regaining that ability due to physical and social activation.  

But of course, apart from the anecdotal there has been research showing that care farm programs can improve nutritional (food and drink) intake of people with dementia, and overall seems to have a positive effect in terms of exercise, social connections, self esteem and meaning & purpose, as well as positive benefits for informal caregivers in terms of respite.  In conclusion, if I were ever in a position to need such care, I sure hope there is a farm I can go to.

  

We'd also like to thank our advisors for their wonderful contributions to Green Care Farms Inc.