Subject line: An update on the National Dementia Strategy from our CEO
On May 15, I attended the National Dementia Strategy conference held by the Public Health Agency of Canada in Ottawa. There were attendees from across the country, including people living with dementia alongside caregivers, health-care providers and elected officials.
The passion and enthusiasm of all the participants affirmed the need for a national strategy to build awareness and show active commitment to people affected by the disease – whether through services, education or research. It really underscored that dementia is not just a health-care issue: dementia-friendly principles are needed throughout our communities and our government.
Federal Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor (front) with attendees of the National Dementia Strategy conference, May 2018.
It was a great pleasure to be able to attend with multiple delegates from B.C., including members of the Society’s advisory group for people living with dementia – Mario Gregorio, Jim Mann and Myrna Norman – and Paul Blanchet from the caregiver advisory group. Here’s how our delegates felt about the experience:
- Mario Gregorio – “The gathering of minds allowed a healthy and robust discussion about what needs to be changed and what we need to accomplish moving forward. It was an opportunity to explore the challenges of a diverse, multi-ethnic Canadian society living in urban, rural and remote locations. It was inspiring to hear how people from other provinces create opportunities to help people living with dementia in their community.”
- Jim Mann – “The National Dementia Conference brought together six groups of people all focused on dementia and who, I think it’s fair to say, had not really talked to each other in an organized manner previously. The agenda items, generally, encouraged conversations between groups, which was enlightening and educational for everyone. Researchers heard from people living with dementia and vice versa—they were both learning from each other, which was impactful.”
- Myrna Norman – “It was a pinnacle moment for people concerned about dementia. I feel so fortunate to have attended and be treated as an equal. We focused on the need for changes to diagnosis, care after diagnosis, stigma and research. The best part for me was having the opportunity to connect with other people living with dementia across the country.”
- Paul Blanchet – “The discussion at the session was broad but also allowed us to go more deeply into key topics through round table breakouts. I participated in discussions on diagnosis, treatment and care guidelines, surveillance, health systems and health services research, and in awareness raising and stigma reduction. My biggest takeaway was that there is work going and progress being made, but that the different stakeholders have not been working as closely together as they need to be to accelerate progress.”
Federal Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced a ministerial advisory board to consult on matters related to the health of Canadians living with dementia, as part of the development of the National Dementia Strategy. This advisory board will be co-chaired by Pauline Tardif, CEO for our federation partner, the Alzheimer Society of Canada and will include Jim Mann! “My appointment to the Ministerial Advisory Board on Dementia is a big honour,” Jim says. “At our first meeting, the Minister of Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada heard from each of us the determination to make progress on the most effective national dementia strategy possible so I look forward to upcoming meetings to achieve that goal.”
With development of the National Dementia Strategy under way, it is an exciting time. As we learn more about the direction of things, we’ll continue to share with you.