Provincial Dementia Strategy Journey
A Provincial Dementia Strategy was submitted to the PEI government in June 2011. This strategy would lay out clearly responsibilities for community groups and the health-case system from the point of diagnosis to the end of life, providing patients with easier answers to important questions A key priority is increased funding for the First Link program. This strategy would also go a long way towards helping to create more dementia-friendly communities. The Alzheimer Society of PEI was hopeful to see results in 2015 when Minister of Health and Wellness, Doug Currie, shared plans for committing to the Provincial Dementia Strategy.
During the 2015 sitting of the spring and fall legislature the Minister of Health and Wellness and Family and Human Services, Minister Currie shared there is a Provincial Dementia Strategy. On November 25, 2015 it was stated by Minister Currie, “We are committed to moving forward on a strategy to make these services better and to continue to embrace the challenges facing us in this area of our health care system. The strategy will recommend a continuum of care over the life of an individual living with dementia from prevention to end-of-life care. It will proactively respond to projected demographic changes with a goal to improve quality of life for patients and families.
The strategy will include recommendations to raise public awareness of dementia as well as early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment and drug therapy. It will recommend education and training for health care providers as well as ways to enhance the quality of services and supports for patients and their caregivers. We are grateful to the many partners who participated in the strategy including the Alzheimer’s Society of PEI, dementia experts from across the country, health care providers, physicians, and family members.
Government was pleased to provide the Alzheimer’s Society of PEI with an additional one-time funding of $95,000 earlier this year to expand their First Link® program province-wide, which has become a very popular and successful program. First Link® is an innovative referral program for patients, families, and caregivers. It provides support from the point of diagnosis and throughout the progression of the disease (See Hansard Notes November 25, 2015 - page 1704-1706)."
On November 26, 2015 the Minister of Health and Wellness and Family and Human Services, Minister Currie shared responses to questions taken as notice. He stated “I rise to update the Assembly from questions from yesterday’s Question Period on the provincial dementia strategy. We are grateful for the many partners that created, particularly the Alzheimer Society and dementia experts from across Canada. The framework for the dementia strategy is complete and the Department of Health and Wellness has received it. The work has been well under way (See Hansard Notes November 25, 2015 - page 1704-1706).”
Despite the work that was achieved in 2015, we still do not have a Provincial Dementia Strategy. Last year, it became clear that it was not a priority for the Government of PEI.
On May 4, 2017, MLA James Aylward questioned the Minister of Health and Wellness, Robert Henderson, on why we do not yet have a Provincial Dementia Strategy. Minister Henderson stated that they have hired a senior policy analyst to work on developing strategies and believes the recent 5.8 budget increase will allow us to meet the many challenges and issues within PEI’s health care system.
In the summer of 2017, the Province committed to developing the Seniors Health and Wellness Strategy under the director of Dr. Michael Corman, Principal Advisor of Senior’s Health. This strategy is still being developed to improve services to seniors and meet the health care needs of Islanders in the future. It is expected to be released it in the spring of 2018.
We are committed to continue working with our new Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell towards a Provincial Dementia Strategy, recognizing the invaluable First Link program. Many other Canadian provinces have been able to achieve wonderful results with their Provincial Dementia Strategies. An excellent example would be the strategy released in 2015 in the Province of Nova Scotia: (http://novascotia.ca/dhw/dementia/Dementia-Final-Project-Report.pdf).