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There's work happening now at the provincial government level to see what can be done to improve health-care services for people with dementia and Alzheimer's.
Last year, the province started consultations for a Dementia Care Action Plan to increase awareness, improve supports and services and improve the capacity of the workforce to care for people living with dementia and Alzheimer's. Those consultations concluded earlier this month with an in-person session held in Gander.
Shirley Lucas, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador (ASNL), has attended some of these sessions.
"It's really good that they went out to get consultation from the people who are using the services, both from the individual and the families, to kind of help provide some insight as to what the needs are out there," Lucas told The Telegram. "Having been part of the consultations in various locations, I found that the family contribution was very valuable. I think that they actually referenced things that in my mind I was saying, 'Oh, I never thought of that. That's a pretty easy fix, and we didn't look at that as an option.' I think that's really important — to give people voices to bring about change within any part of the health-care sector."
As an organization, ASNL has identified a number of issues it wants the province to address:
- Improved co-ordination of services for people with dementia;
- Increased access to community supports such as home-based care and home support programs;
- More education for health-care professionals.
To address the latter item, ASNL will launch an e-Learning program later this year aimed at those medical professionals. Currently, ASNL also provides information kits on the different stages of dementia, though it only distributes these kits through community organizations. Lucas would like to get them shared more broadly, noting her own organization's resources are limited.