National Dementia Strategy 2nd Report Highlights Excellence in Ontario Dementia Services

In October 2020, the Honourable Patty Hadju, Canada’s Minister of Health, released the government’s second annual report to highlight progress on the National Dementia Strategy, pointing to funding opportunities, and identifying future areas for action. The report is dated June 2020 and was released publicly in October 2020, including a COVID-19 lens on findings and future direction.

Canada’s first National Dementia Strategy, titled A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire,  is focused on the ultimate goal of preventing dementia, leaving treatment, diagnosis, and management of dementia to provincial and territorial health systems.

The three national objectives of the National Dementia Strategy are:

  1. Prevent dementia;
  2. Advance therapies to find a cure; and
  3. Improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and caregivers.

The Provincial Geriatrics Leadership Office (PGLO) applauds Minister Hadju and the Public Health Agency of Canada on the release of the second annual report on the National Dementia Strategy.

Launched in June 2019, the National Dementia Strategy committed more than $81 million over five years to fund dementia awareness, surveillance, guidance on diagnosis and treatment, and research. The Strategy has three objectives:

  1. Prevent dementia;
  2. Advance therapies to find a cure; and
  3. Improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and caregivers.

The second annual report illustrates successes to date and highlights efforts at the local, provincial, and national levels to meet the objectives above. Each objective is accompanied by data that help reinforce the importance of action and also to raise awareness about dementia while combating pervasive stigma about the disease.

“The Federal Government’s investment in dementia care – from prevention to diagnosis and management, with a focus on the quality of life and quality of care for older adults – is heartening,” said Kelly Kay, Executive Director of the PGLO. “I am encouraged that the Public Health Agency of Canada plans to continue to build on data and evidence while focusing on the lived experiences of people living with dementia and their caregivers” said, Kay.

Several PGLO partners and collaborators were recognized in the National Dementia Strategy’s second annual report for their work in dementia care in Ontario, including:

  • Behavioural Supports Ontario a provincial network focused on a team-based approach to behavioural assessments and person-centred support plans across the continuum of care.
  • Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network (GAIN) a recognized, leading model of interprofessional team-based care, supporting complex older adults and their families with comprehensive, specialized assessments and targeted interventions in their homes in Ontario Health’s East Region.
  • The Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s First Link Program, a province-wide program which connects people living with dementia and their families to education, resources, and supports in each region in Ontario.
  • Multispecialty Interprofessional Team (MINT) Memory Clinics, providing dementia care in primary care settings across the province.

“We congratulate our partners on their much deserved recognition. All of these programs demonstrate effective supports for older adults living with complex health concerns, including dementia” noted Kay.

The PGLO is aligned with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s commitment to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and their caregivers. Co-creation with older adults is a core business practice of PGLO and has produced high quality resources such as Caregiving Strategies, a suite of resources, including a website with resources, a handbook, and a free online course for family and friend caregivers who provide care and support for older adults living with a variety of complex health conditions, including dementia.

The PGLO’s network of clinical experts from across Ontario continues to develop innovative approaches and resources for dementia care. In July, 2020, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published “One Size Does Not Fit All: Choosing Practical Cognitive Screening Tools for Your Practice.” This made-in-Ontario project was developed by PGLO colleagues to provide guidance to clinicians looking to understand the suite and complementarity of cognitive screening tools. “We wanted to emphasize the difference between screening and diagnosis. There as several validated and freely available screening tools identified in our review”, said Dr. Sophiya Benjamin, co-medical director of the PGLO and one of the authors of the publication. “We wanted to give clinicians the timely information they need to appropriately select from available screening tools in response to unique clinical conditions and settings”, added Dr. Benjamin.

The implementation of the National Dementia Strategy is supported by the Dementia Community Investment and the Dementia Strategic Fund, which the government says will open for new proposals later in Autumn 2020. For more information on the National Dementia Strategy, contact the Public Health Agency of Canada Dementia Policy Secretariat.