People living in British Columbia with dementia and their caregivers will have continued access to First Link as government again recognizes the importance of the program with $2.7 million in funding to continue the initiative.
“Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can feel overwhelming and isolating for patients and families,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “This funding for the First Link program will help make sure people are supported to learn about the disease, how to cope with the changes and plan for the future.”
Dix and Anne Kang, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors, made the announcement ahead of joining the Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s in Vancouver, to show support for British Columbians facing dementia.
Administered by the Alzheimer Society of B.C., First Link provides support to people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia throughout the progression of the disease. There are more than 18,000 people connected to First Link.
“The support of a community can go a long way in helping people with dementia and their families,” Kang said. “First Link is an important resource for connecting them to support groups and fitness and social programs, and helping ensure that they are acknowledged, supported and included.”
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. runs several programs to support and educate people living with dementia and their families. These include First Link and Minds in Motion, a fitness and social program open to people in the early stages of dementia and their care partners, where they can participate in light exercise, fun activities and social time.
“The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is grateful for the B.C. Ministry of Health’s commitment to British Columbians living with dementia,” said Maria Howard, chief executive officer of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. “This funding for First Link dementia support is vital for ensuring that people affected by the disease have access to programs and services that will help them build the confidence and skills to live as well as possible.”
Supporting First Link is part of government’s commitment to strengthen the supports and services available to seniors. Government is investing $1.048 billion by 2021 to improve care for seniors, including investments in primary care, home health, residential care and assisted living. This will include $75 million over the next three years to expand respite care adult day programs and $240 million by 2021 to increase direct care hours for seniors to an average of 3.36 hours per patient per day.
More educational spaces for health-care assistants are being created in 11 post-secondary institutions across B.C. to help support this, and through the Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act, continuity of care for seniors will improve with improved job security and stability for health care staff.
- In 2017-18, about 62,000 seniors in B.C. had diagnosed dementia, which is 7% of the population in that age group – 65 or older.
- There were about 5,200 people in B.C. under the age of 65 living with dementia, accounting for 7.7% of the total dementia cases.
- First Link reaches out to people throughout the province after diagnosis to ensure they have the information and support they need.
- Trained staff and volunteers are available through regional resource centres and the First Link dementia helpline (1 800 936-6033) to answer questions and put people in touch with appropriate services.
To learn more about First Link, visit: alzheimer.ca/en/bc/We-can-help
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, visit: www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/hw136623