Navigating the health care system can be difficult for anyone. Getting a diagnosis of dementia takes time and usually requires several visits with different health-care providers, each of whom need to have a complete picture of your current health. As well, someone might be living with other complex chronic conditions in addition to dementia and may need to see multiple experts on different issues. Communicating and coordinating our needs in those kinds of situations can quickly become overwhelming.
This week, Providence Health Care, in collaboration with Shared Care, released a guide for people living with dementia who also have other chronic conditions, to support communication with their health care teams. The Dementia Companion Handbook – A guide for supporting conversations with your healthcare team is a resource intended to assist people in identifying the different members of their health-care team and the information they need.
As well, it can help with care planning. It can be used to document conversations with different health-care providers, record questions for future meetings and link to relevant resources for information and support. In addition, nurse practitioners, family physicians and specialists can also access a complementary Coordinating Dementia Tool on most electronic medical record (EMR) systems. This tool complements the handbook by providing health care providers with information and resources to share with people living with dementia at different points along their dementia journey.
The guide has been produced in collaboration with people living with dementia and caregivers, as well as staff members from the Alzheimer Society of B.C., Family Caregivers of BC, Doctors of BC, Vancouver Division of Family Practice, Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care, Home ViVE and West End Seniors’ Network. This project is funded in partnership by Doctors of BC and the Province of B.C. through the Shared Care Committee.
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. appreciated being a part of the community working group that consulted on this project. We would like to see B.C. adopt a provincial dementia strategy that promotes the importance of access to quality care, from diagnosis through to end of life, and that includes effective care coordination that is person-centred.
Download the Dementia Companion Handbook – Guiding your conversations with health care professionals in printable or online (mobile and tablet-friendly) format.
If you have questions or concerns related to accessing health-care or support services for yourself, or someone living with dementia, contact the First Link® Dementia Helpline toll-free at:
- English: 1-800-936-6033 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
- Cantonese and Mandarin: 1-833-674-5007 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
- Punjabi: 1-833-674-5003 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)