Psychiatrist at The Royal invests in families
Dr. Vinay Lodha and his family donate $25,000 to the Geriatric Psychiatry Program
As a psychiatrist in The Royal’s Geriatric Psychiatry Program, Dr. Vinay Lodha sees patients and families in their rawest moments.
“I am fortunate to work in a place where ordinary people often do extraordinary things and still stay grounded. In geriatric psychiatry, we frequently observe human suffering push the boundaries of what we think is possible,” said Lodha. “It’s a place where we treat families as much as we treat patients.”
Dementia and late-in-life mental illness, which Lodha often sees in tandem, are devastating because they steal from a person the essence of who they are. Family members are often dealing with loss and grief while still caring for their loved one. Lodha wanted to create a space at The Royal for families to be able to gather on their own, especially when one of their family members is receiving end-of-life care.
Lodha, his wife Dr. Chetna Tailor, and their two children donated $25,000 to The Royal’s Geriatric Psychiatry Program. Part of the donation built a new family room, and the rest supports adding a new fellowship position in geriatric psychiatry.
The family room is painted a soothing but lively blue and illuminated by large windows. It has comfortable furniture, colouring supplies for children, and beautiful photographs on the walls depicting mountain scenes — Lodha took these while back-country hiking. On a plaque are the words of J.R.R. Tolkien: “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
The room is designed and located to remind people to gravitate toward the light and beauty in life despite being on a difficult path, Lodha said. “It’s a space that can serve as a foundation for recovery.”
The donation is also an investment in the future of geriatric psychiatry. In 2013, the Royal College of Physicians recognized geriatric psychiatry as a subspecialty within psychiatry. Older adults require specialized psychiatric care — they have different needs related to medication, are often physically frail, and are typically experiencing multiple health issues alongside a psychiatric diagnosis.
There are, however, only a handful of accredited training sites for geriatric psychiatrists, each with a very small number of government-funded training slots. The Royal is accredited to train geriatric psychiatrists, but only has funding for one geriatric psychiatry fellow each year.
Community donations to The Royal, supplemented by Lodha’s donation, mean the hospital can train two geriatric psychiatry fellows this year. That doesn’t sound like much, but with the aging population, adding even one geriatric psychiatrist makes a difference. Each new fellow also immediately increases access to services for patients in the community.
Adding a peaceful place for those supporting loved ones through illness and investing in the future of health care for older adults is all part of the job for Lodha — as a psychiatrist who cares deeply about the people he serves, but especially as a parent.
“My wife and I made this donation to teach and remind our children that life can be unpredictable, harsh, lonely, and unfair, but you can always choose to face challenges in life with intelligence, strength, decency, and compassion,” he said.