One of the most important building blocks necessary to creating a truly dementia-friendly province – where people living with dementia, their caregivers and their families are welcomed, acknowledge and supported – is ensuring that people have access to the support and education that they need, when they need it. The Alzheimer Society of B.C. connects with British Columbians affected by dementia through First Link® dementia support.
While individuals and families in Sooke can visit the nearest Regional Resource Centre or call the First Link® Dementia Helpline (1-800-936-6033) at any point in the dementia journey, one of the most important ways they can connect to First Link® dementia support is through a referral from a health-care provider.
“Because of the stress and stigma associated with a diagnosis of dementia, it can take families time to adjust to their new situation. On average, families may wait up to 11 months before they connect to First Link® for help,” says Gabriela Townsend, Support and Education Coordinator at the Society’s North and Central Vancouver Island Resource Centre. “A referral at the time of diagnosis ensures that families are being supported during time that can be critical for advanced planning and developing support networks.”
When a health-care provider refers someone to First Link®, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. will reach out to them to ensure that they have the option to receive services that will assist in maintaining their quality of life as much as possible as the disease progresses. While a referral at the time of diagnosis is ideal, people can be referred to First Link® at any point in the dementia journey.
Dr. Kathleen McFadden, a general practitioner, is an avid champion of First Link® and the services offered through it. “We may only see an individual or family once or twice, but with a First Link® referral we know they will be provided with ongoing support,” Dr. McFadden says. “Giving the diagnosis is a lot easier when you know someone from the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is there to help them through the journey.”
People may be referred by many different kinds of health-care providers, whether a general practitioner, an assessment clinic or a home and community care case manager. “The Alzheimer Society of B.C. values all our health-care partners in working to build a community of care with us,” says Gabriela.
Sooke residents who are concerned about dementia can call the First Link® Dementia Helpline (1-800-936-6033) or visit alzheimerbc.org, and are encouraged to speak with their health-care provider about whether or not a referral to First Link® dementia support would help them.