As our seniors’ population grows, so does the prevalence of dementia. Dementia impairs cognitive function and can be the result of many diseases - the most common being Alzheimer’s Disease.
Recognizing early the symptoms, and providing appropriate and timely care is a crucial part of Drs Peter O'Connor and Leena Jain’s enhanced approach to dementia care – which launched in Fraser Health in 2015 with funding from the Specialist Services Committee (SSC) Quality & Innovation initiative.
Evidence suggests that dementia, especially in early stages, remains under-detected, under-diagnosed, under-disclosed, and under-treated/managed. While there is no known cure, we do know that timely diagnosis and access to community supports can positively impact disease progression and quality of life.
“Every day in our practices we see that dementia is a complex disease, best managed collaboratively with the client, their family, primary care providers, and community-based services” says Drs Peter O’Connor and Leena Jain. “Our goal is better dementia care that benefits clients and their families by improving access to timely diagnosis and services, in a culturally-sensitive way.”
Key priorities and activities have included:
- development of a Dementia Collaborative Practice Pathway to guide the interdisciplinary team through early diagnosis and referral to community supports,
- Dementia Education Mentoring Program, which groups Specialist Mentors and Primary Care Provider Mentees in an eight-month mentorship cohort, and
- a multi-faceted public awareness campaign and partnership with Alzheimer Society of BC and iCON to enhance dementia knowledge and care among the South Asian community, where this issue may be magnified due to cultural context, misconceptions about aging and dementia, social stigma, and unavailability of language and culturally-sensitive services and resources.
This three-year initiative is in partnership with Fraser Health, Divisions of Family Practice, Alzheimer Society of BC, UBC Continuing Professional Development, and UBC Intercultural Online Health Network (iCON). To access the clinical tools and resources developed through this initiative, visit UBC-CPD. To refer patients and clients, please call the South Asian Dementia Helpline at 604-449-5003 (Toll-free 1-833-674-5003).