January 31, 2020
The Government of Canada today announced $999,888 in funding for a new UBC-led national project that aims to provide people living with dementia, as well as their family or caregivers, with opportunities to remain active and connected in their communities.
Researchers will partner with community organizations in Vancouver, B.C., and Thunder Bay, Ontario, to develop and evaluate supports and programs that help achieve this goal.
Every hour, nine seniors are diagnosed with dementia in Canada, says the project lead, UBC nursing professor Alison Phinney.
“The condition has a growing impact across the country, with more than 419,000 Canadians aged 65 and older living with diagnosed dementia,” said Phinney, who co-leads the Centre for Research on Personhood in Dementia at UBC. “Now more than ever, it’s important to expand the ability of people living with dementia to improve their quality of life and participate in their community.”
The UBC project, “Building Capacity for Meaningful Participation by People Living with Dementia”, will develop dementia-inclusive toolkits to facilitate the participation of people living with dementia in self-advocacy, leadership and community life.
It will also build partnerships with community groups to deliver and evaluate initiatives in the areas of arts, social, fitness and volunteer activities that improve the wellbeing of people living with dementia. These activities may include social clubs, memory cafes and other events, which people living with dementia will help plan and organize themselves.
“Getting them involved is the critical piece,” said Phinney. “People living with dementia often feel socially isolated, and efforts to include them in community life will lead to better health — not just their own, but also that of their families and caregivers.”
In B.C., the UBC researchers will partner with Vancouver’s Westside Seniors Hub. “We are thrilled to partner with UBC,” says Mary Jane MacLennan, spokesperson for the Westside Seniors Hub. “This is an opportunity to connect UBC expertise and research capacity with our community partners so together we can explore new ways to bring purpose and joy to the lives of those living with dementia.”
The UBC-led project is one of five funded under Canada’s Dementia Community Investment program, which is providing $20 million over five years starting in 2018-19, and $4 million per year on an ongoing basis, to fund community-based projects that address the challenges of dementia.
Other funding recipients include the Alzheimer Society of Canada for its “Dementia Friendly Canada” project and the Native Women's Association of Canada for its “Supporting a Circle of Care” project.