Alberta launches provincial dementia strategy

Dementia Hoffman

Alberta’s new dementia strategy supports and values families from the onset of dementia through to end of life.
The Alberta Dementia Strategy and Action Plan is framed around four key outcomes:
1. That Albertans understand the impact of dementia and actively work towards optimal brain health.
2. That Albertans living with dementia and their caregivers are supported in their communities.
3. Timely recognition, diagnosis and clinical management through primary health care, supported by specialist services.
4. Timely, accessible, integrated and high-quality dementia care and services.
“We’re working to make life better for families while laying the groundwork for the future. This plan offers a targeted and strategic approach that will lead to quality care, better brain health and stronger community supports for years to come.” - Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health
“I am proud to support our government’s work towards a dementia-friendly Alberta. Many Albertans have asked for a comprehensive strategy and we have created one. This strategy will support those living with dementia and their caregivers.” - Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing
Since 2015, roughly $6.8 million has been invested in measures to give families tools to support their loved ones living in their home communities.
The new plan calls for other improvements to help Alberta families, including increased rural specialist consultations, improved mental health supports and better transitions for patients moving between different care settings.
“As a person living with dementia, I have never felt more optimistic. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the provincial government on the release of the dementia strategy. This tells me our government is committed to work with our health services, the Alzheimer Society and other support groups to have a provincial approach to support people like me and loved ones who live with this disease as much as we do.” - Roger Marple
Over 42,000 Albertans were diagnosed with dementia in 2016, but the risk of developing dementia doubles every five years beyond age 65. As the population ages over the next 30 years, the number of Albertans living with dementia is expected to grow to more than 155,000.
The new plan also aims at broader changes to reflect the demographic shift. It aspires to make Alberta a leader in dementia research, with a trained and supported workforce, bolstered by a comprehensive framework to guide measurement, monitoring and reporting.
The strategy was developed in collaboration with Albertans living with dementia, their caregivers and front-line organizations that deal with dementia.
“We understand the importance of supporting dementia-focused initiatives and we are seeing positive results that will benefit the lives of those living with dementia and their caregivers. We are pleased to have a strategy to guide us forward together in planning for our aging population and their needs.” - Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services
“The Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories was pleased to contribute to the development of the strategy and to be a key partner in building a shared vision for dementia care in our province. We appreciate the government’s recognition and investment in our First Link Program to ensure Albertans living with dementia, their families and care partners have the support, programs and education they need.” - Michele Mulder, CEO, Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories
Quick facts
Several measures are already underway that support the Alberta Dementia Strategy and Action Plan:
• Expanding the First Link program ($1.95 million): An early intervention program to connect patients and caregivers with supports as soon as possible after a dementia diagnosis.
• Mental Health First Aid Seniors ($530,000): Free public training on how to respond to a mental health issue as it develops.
• Seniors Health Strategic Clinical Network ($4.1 million): There are several projects currently underway through Alberta Health Services.
• Health Link 811: Specially trained dementia nurses currently average nearly 10 referrals per week.
• Community innovation pilots: Eight programs are currently underway, including programs that integrate exercise, art and music in dementia care, as well as other innovative dementia support models.