Being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia can be overwhelming and it may be difficult to know where to turn for help. Our First Link® program can help you navigate the road ahead.
If you or someone you know might benefit from First Link® complete the Referral Form and fax it to (705) 645-4397.
Download the First Link Referral Form
First Link® … your first step to living well with dementia
With locations all across Ontario, the Alzheimer Society and its First Link® program makes connections to vital dementia information, support and services helping to build confidence for the journey ahead.
Many families are told about the Alzheimer Society and dementia care services but will not make the call until a crisis occurs. First Link® helps to remove this barrier by enabling physicians, other health-care providers and community service providers to directly refer individuals and families at the time of diagnosis or as soon as possible after a diagnosis is made.
First Link® partners include family physicians, geriatric specialists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, pharmacists and social services workers who work in family practice, health care facilities and community agency settings.
A study has shown that people who were referred directly to First Link® by health care professionals received services and support 11 months sooner than clients who access the services themselves by a self-directed referral.
It’s easy to refer to First Link®. With consent, a referral can be sent for the person living with dementia or care partner, or both, to the Alzheimer Society of Muskoka. Although referring early/at time of diagnosis is optimal for patient benefit, connecting to the Alzheimer Society can occur at any point of disease progression.
Download a copy of the Alzheimer Society of Muskoka Referral Form.
How does First Link® work?
When your patient permits you to share their information with our First Link® staff, we will contact them directly.
We will immediately connect them with a network of education and support services specific to their situation. We are their link to community help, both at the time of their diagnosis and throughout their illness.
Because First Link® focuses on service coordination, resources and planning, clients become more confident and involved in their care, reducing the burden on family physicians, long-term care and emergency services. Families also are better equipped to create their action plans to tackle future legal, financial and health needs.
Why use First Link®?
Presenting a diagnosis of dementia to a patient is never easy. They may be bewildered and distressed about the challenges ahead, and unsure about how to navigate the health system.
Families are often too overwhelmed to pick up the phone and ask for help. When you refer them to First Link®, we call them, connecting them to the information and resources they need to make informed choices.
First Link® gets them the help they need right away, averting possible crises and helping them meet challenges as they come up. That translates into fewer emergency room visits and lets care partners keep family members with dementia at home as long as possible.
With a projected 40 percent growth in the number of Ontarians diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by 2020, the support First Link® offers your patient is more important than ever.
What are the benefits of First Link®
- Quickly connects them to programs and services at their local Alzheimer Society, including:
- One-on-one and family counselling and support groups
- Tips for navigating the health system to get the care they need
- Five-part learning series of workshops tailor-made for families at various stages of the illness. Topics include practical information about the disease and daily living, positive approaches to care, strategies for challenges and how to prepare for the end of life.
- Links them to other health and social service providers in their community
- Helps them find resources to manage issues such as decision-making, adjusting to the loss of a driver’s licence, financial planning, power of attorney and long-term care placement
What health care providers are saying about First Link®
“As a family physician that cares for individuals with a multitude of chronic diseases, I welcome any help I can access to assist my patients and their families. In these days of limited resources, other professionals often have more time and information to share with the public than I have, as I juggle the demands generated by caring for an ageing population.”
“As a health care professional, First Link® provides a much needed and valued service. Receiving a diagnosis of any kind of cognitive change can be very difficult for clients and their families. Having First Link® to refer them to, I am confident that they are going to get timely advice and support not only at the point of diagnosis but as their disease, circumstances and needs change.”
First Link® Care Navigation evaluation results