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End of Life in Dementia Care: Research Evidence to Support the Provincial Dementia Service Framework

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As the population of British Columbia continues to age, an increasingly large proportion is anticipated to require services and supports as a result of various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and other mental health problems that affect the elderly.

While dementia is usually recognized in the later stages of the illness, research and best practices have demonstrated that early intervention strategies delay the onset of dementia or slow its progression, improving the quality of life for older British  Columbians and their families. Comprehensive, integrated services across the continuum of care that address individual unmet needs over the course of the disease are fundamental to optimal health outcomes not only for patients with dementia, but also for their families and caregivers.

The Ministry of Health, health authorities and leading experts are working in partnership to develop a Provincial Service Framework for Dementia, which includes evidence-based best practices as well as patient and provider experiences to improve service delivery across provider levels and throughout the course of the disease.
 
This project provides applied research activities to support the development of a Framework that, once completed, will support health authorities in the development and implementation of dementia strategies.The initial stage of the project focused on summarizing evidence on best and emerging practices related to managing end-of-life issues for seniors with dementia and other mental health problems.  The recommendations of the End of Life Research Report have been incorporated into the Dementia Service Framework.

Penny MacCourt

2007