Personal, social, and system connectedness: Within the dementia context

 “First Link” as a working example within the dementia context

The First Link program connects individuals recently diagnosed with dementia and their families with necessary supports and services throughout the disease process. The First Link program links people living with dementia and their families with a variety of support services, including family physicians, geriatric specialists, pharmacists, social service workers in health facilities and community agencies and staff working in family practice.

Upon providing a diagnosis of dementia to an individual, a family physician will offer to forward their contact information to a First Link counsellor. The First Link counsellor will call the person referred to them and offer support and information. The goal is to connect people with dementia and their families with necessary supports early in the disease process and to provide the knowledge necessary to better cope and manage the disease. First Link offers group or individual support; it connects individuals to Alzheimer Society programs and services and other community and health care services and it offers a learning series where information about diagnosis, day-to-day living, and positive approaches to care are shared.

Build meaningful partnerships between older adults and service providers

Persons with dementia and their families must be partners actively involved alongside service providers in the planning, policy development, delivery and evaluation or programs and policies that are intended for their benefit. Accessing community resources or formal services should not entail that persons with dementia and their partners exhaust their personal resources and/or informal support. Nor should they have to relinquish control on how services are delivered to them. A blending of formal and informal resources where consumers have input into how elements within the formal support sector are designed and delivered is ideal.

First Link connects individuals newly diagnosed with dementia and their families to a community of learning, services, and support early in the process enabling them to be involved in their care longer. This enables persons with dementia and their families to continue controlling their care while receiving the necessary support and resources. A meaningful partnership is then formed overtime between the service providers and the families which is beneficial when increased care and support is needed.

  • What opportunities are provided within your community or organization that enables persons with dementia and family members to meaningfully contribute to decision-making, planning, delivery, and evaluation for programs or services?

Create strong partnerships within and beyond your community

People living with dementia and their families must continue to have meaningful opportunities to actively and fully engage in community life, especially after a move to a long-term care home. Collaborations and partnerships are required for an effective continuum of integrated care.

The program increases understanding and awareness among individuals with dementia and their family members, increases coping and confidence of persons with dementia and their care partners. Creating these connections easily in the process also reduces the number and intensity of crisis situations and reduces caregiver burnout and pre-mature long-term care placement. This helps persons with dementia to remain in the community longer.

The program enhances linkages between the First Link coordinator and primary care physicians, other health care professionals, and community service providers. It improves coordination of care non-medical management issues; increases understanding among primary care physicians and healthcare professionals of the assessment and management of dementia and the role of community resources, and enhances linkages between the Alzheimer Society and the diagnosing primary care physicians and other healthcare providers.

  • How do persons with dementia and family members continue to participate in the social aspects of our organization or community?
  • How are strong partnerships fostered and sustained within our organization or community that improve the quality of life of persons with dementia and their family?

This page is the end of the Building blocks section. Go to Community sectors.