Report brings to light challenges of health-care decision-making and the legal rights of people living with dementia

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL) and the Alzheimer Society of B.C. released a report aimed at respecting the rights of people living with dementia when it comes to health-care decision-making. Conversations about Care: The Law and Practice of Health Care Consent for People Living with Dementia in British Columbia reflects over two years of research and consultation and makes recommendations for changes to law, policy and practice.

The report contains 34 recommendations that address law reform, access to justice and legal aid, public and health-care professional legal education and systemic barriers to informed consent, such as physician-billing and access to language interpretation. The recommendations were developed with a 15-person interdisciplinary advisory committee after consulting with people living with dementia, family caregivers, health-care professionals and other key stakeholders from across B.C.

“Decisions about health-care treatment are deeply important and personal,” says CCEL National Director, Krista James. “Informed health-care decision-making requires meaningful conversations about what matters most to people, and what options they have. Unfortunately, physicians and other health-care staff sometimes do not get informed consent when they should, particularly in long-term care.”

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. collaborated with the CCEL throughout the development of the report by organizing focus groups of people affected by dementia to give their input into the report, as well as providing photography and ongoing consultation.

“This project has brought together the perspectives of health-care providers and people affected by dementia to champion their voices and help us better understand the legal rights of people living with dementia,” says Alzheimer Society of B.C. CEO Maria Howard. “The report will allow families, care providers, government and communities to collaborate as they support people affected by dementia to live the best lives possible.”

The full report, as well as a short, plain language version of the report, can be downloaded from the CCEL website at

Last Updated: 03/18/2019