The province’s first dementia strategy aims to improve access to timely and accurate diagnoses, provide more public education and awareness, give more support to families and caregivers and enhance co-ordination in the health system.
Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine launched Towards Understanding: A Dementia Strategy for Nova Scotia, today, June 23, in Halifax.
“People with dementia experience a progressive decline in the ability to think, remember and carry out day-to-day activities and, over time, their ability to live independently,” said Mr. Glavine. “That’s heartbreaking, and hard to cope with. This strategy sets out a path to help those living with dementia, along with their caregivers and families, to live well.”
Some of the actions planned for the next three years are:
— enhancing dementia support as part of the 811 service
— building a toolkit for primary health-care providers, focused on diagnosis, treatment, management and long-term care planning
— enhancing programs such as supportive care to allow caregivers of people younger than 65 who have been diagnosed with dementia to be considered for the program
— engaging with under-represented populations to identify needs and develop culturally specific programs and supports
— developing an education campaign to inform Nova Scotians about the signs of dementia and the supports available
— ensuring accessibility of education programs for families and caregivers and enhancing content to better meet their needs
“The strategy will address the differences in the system that needs to be made to meaningfully respond to the needs of Nova Scotians,” said Lloyd Brown, executive directive of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia and co-chair of the advisory committee. “In the coming months, how that will happen will unfold through ongoing work with the Department of Health and Wellness, other government departments, the Nova Scotia Health Authority, not-for-profit and private partners. It is an exciting time. We now have the opportunity to make the difference we have all been working towards.”
Heather Fifield, a family caregiver representative on the dementia strategy advisory committee said it took several years for her husband to be officially diagnosed with dementia.
“Over those years, we watched him change from a confident, social man to an insecure and withdrawn man. It was devastating to our family,” said Ms. Fifield. “My hope is that this strategy will help put the right support in place to ease the burden on other families.”
In September, government asked Nova Scotians living with dementia, their families and caregivers, and health-care providers, for input. More than 700 people participated through public consultations, online surveys, and outreach support groups. Another 60 people participated in six working groups.
For more information on the strategy, visit novascotia.ca/DHW/Dementia .