Yesterday the Government of Canada hosted the final day of the National Dementia Strategy Conference in Ottawa, Ontario. The two-day conference, which ran from May 14 to 15, 2018, was required by the National Strategy for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias Act, which states that the federal Minister of Health must convene a conference with various stakeholders for the purpose of developing a comprehensive national dementia strategy.
Of the approximately 190 invited participants, about 25 were people living with dementia. Many family caregivers were also in attendance. Other participants included researchers; healthcare professionals; care providers; advocacy groups; and representatives from provincial and territorial governments. Dementia Justice founding director, Heather Campbell, was in attendance.
The theme for Day 2 was Awareness Raising, Stigma Reduction and Health Promotion. Within this theme, concurrent dialogue sessions were held on the following subtopics :
Throughout the conference, one consistently discussed issue was the importance of incorporating the rights of persons with dementia into the development and implementation of the national dementia strategy. While legal issues (e.g., human rights, consent, capacity, elder abuse, employment law, criminal justice) were not directly included in the conference program, the topics were raised by many participants over the two days:
Conference participants also acknowledged the importance of addressing "new" and traditionally invisible sub-populations of persons with dementia, including prisoners who are ageing in the criminal justice system. Attendees also discussed the need to tell the complex story of dementia, while maintaining a message of hope and not fueling additional stigma.
Canada is currently one of the last G7 countries without a national dementia strategy. As such, the conference was an important milestone in bringing together a broad range of stakeholders from across the country to improve the quality of life for persons with dementia, no matter their postal code. Once the strategy is developed, Canada will become one of approximately 30 countries around the world that has a national plan.
Dementia Justice thanks the Public Health Agency of Canada and the conference planning committee for a successful event. We are looking forward to the federal government's What We Heard report, and the development and implementation of the comprehensive national dementia strategy in the coming months and years.
Written submission on Bill C-233, National Dementia Strategy, to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (April 2017)
National Strategy for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias Act
National Dementia Strategy Conference Program