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Federal Government Announces Dementia Strategy

On June 17, the federal government announced Canada’s first national dementia strategy. The guiding principle of this ambitious strategy envisions a future wherein all Canadians living with dementia and their caregivers are supported, receive appropriate care and experience an enhanced quality of life.

Five key principles underpin and guide the mandate of this strategy. Through its implementation, the federal government is attempting to meet the following objectives:

• Prioritize quality of life for people with dementia, and their caregivers

• Recognize diversity to ensure an inclusive approach, with a focus on at-risk communities and individuals with distinct needs

• Respect the human rights and dignity of people living with dementia

• Focus on evidence-based decision-making, openly sharing best available knowledge and data

Encompassed in this approach are broader objectives to work toward preventing dementia, advancing therapies and striving to find a cure. The strategy names five pillars integral to its success:

• Collaboration: success of the strategy is a shared responsibility among governments, researchers, community organizations and people living with dementia and their caregivers

• Research and innovation: promoting research and innovation will advance therapies and treatments that will improve the quality of life of patients and their caregivers while searching for a cure

• Observation and data: enhancing observation and data collection will help to understand the scope of dementia in Canada, to focus resources where they are needed most

• Information resources: developing culturally appropriate and safe resources will facilitate the work of care providers to deliver a high standard of care and help Canadians understand dementia

• Skilled workforce: a skilled workforce will support the care of people living with dementia and facilitate the research needed to provide evidence-informed care to improve quality of life

The Government of Canada recognizes that there are certain populations that are at a higher risk to develop dementia and many who may encounter barriers to equitable care. The strategy acknowledges the unique needs of Indigenous, LGBTQ and rural communities and those living with disabilities or pre-existing conditions. The official announcement states that the strategy is informed by “consultations and engagement with people living with dementia, caregivers, researchers, health professionals and other care providers, and representatives of dementia-related advocacy groups from across Canada” and that it “reflects advice resulting from the work of the Ministerial Advisory Board on Dementia, regular meetings with provincial and territorial officials, and the engagement of officials from federal organizations.

Central to the government’s work is respecting human rights. Their approach in this dementia strategy is person-centred and strives to enable the participation of those living with dementia and their caregivers. Lived experience will be considered and respected at every stage; people living with dementia will be consulted on matters concerning their quality of life and given the freedom to make their own choices. It is through this dialogue with patients, caregivers and all others committed to dementia care that the strategy will evolve to address needs and priorities as they change over time.

To read the full announcement and national dementia strategy, click here.