Ontario Expanding Proven Dementia Program to Every Community Across the Province
Ontario will connect every person diagnosed with dementia with a patient navigator by expanding the proven First Link program to every community across the province, making access to care more consistent and fair for families regardless of where they live.
Dipika Damerla, Minister of Seniors Affairs, made the announcement today on behalf of Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, at the Alzheimer Society of Ontario in Toronto.
Expanding the Alzheimer Society’s First Link program will provide 14,000 people diagnosed with dementia, and their care partners, with the services of a First Link Care Navigator who will help them access local supports and programs, such as health professionals, information about day-to-day living and care, counselling, and other community programs and services. Under the expanded First Link program, 46 First Link Care Navigators will be hired.
The province is also supporting an additional 8,000 people living with dementia and providing respite to their families and other care partners by increasing access to community dementia programs. These programs offer activities for people living with dementia, such as art, music, and exercise, which can provide meaningful social and recreational engagement and lead to enhanced well-being. Respite services, which includes in-home and overnight support, reduce care partner burnout and help people with dementia live safely at home for as long as possible.
Supporting people living with dementia in communities across the province is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
- Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s First Link program will receive $8.15 million over three years to enhance dementia care coordination across the province in local Alzheimer Societies across Ontario.
- Ontario will invest $37.5 million over three years to expand community dementia programs, including respite care services.
- Ontario is investing $100 million over three years through its dementia strategy to improve the lives of people living with the disease and their families.
- There are 194,000 people in Ontario living with dementia, with the number expected to grow as the province’s population ages. It is estimated that 6.5 per cent are 66 years old and younger. The dementia strategy is part of Ontario’s Patients First: Roadmap to Strengthen Home and Community Care to improve and expand home and community care over three years.
“As more people are diagnosed with dementia each year, it’s important that the right resources and supports are available to them. We’re making important investments to ensure that patients and their families have the information and supports they need, and making sure they continue to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
“This service will make it easier for people with dementia and their loved ones to find the help they need. This is exactly what a patient-centred health care system should be about.”
“New First Link funding will help us enhance the critical role that local Alzheimer Societies play in supporting Ontarians living with dementia and their care partners from the moment they are diagnosed. Dementia is an incredibly complex condition and it can be difficult for families to navigate the system. First Link helps to ease the pressure.”
“Getting a dementia diagnosis is overwhelming. It’s hard to know what the next step is or where to go for the information and support you’ll need. The Alzheimer Society First Link program was key — it gave me and my husband the support we needed to know what services and programs we could access for help and allowed us to make informed decisions for our life moving forward.”