People are often reluctant to use services at first. The person you support might be worried about giving up their independence.
You, or they, might worry about affording support services or think that services are only for people who ‘cannot manage’ on their own. However, most people find that getting services as soon as possible helps them to stay independent and supports care partners so they can keep providing the amount of support they want to.
Getting services set up is also an important part of making plans. Arranging support now will help you and the person with dementia to manage life and prepare for the future.
There are several different services that may be involved along the way for people with dementia and care partners. The services you both need are likely to change over time.
These may include healthcare or medical services, home and community services, and other social services or care partner support organizations.
Understanding health and social care systems
Here are some important things you should know about dementia care in Canada:
- The system can be hard to navigate, and it is not always user friendly.
- There can be long wait times (sometimes a year and more) between applying for services and getting services in place. Therefore, it is especially important to plan to get support as early as possible.
- Funding for services is often based on your income and savings. You or the person you support may have to pay out of pocket or pay for a portion of the cost for some services.
- Services are meant to be ‘person-centred’; this means you should have a say in what help you get, who gives you that help, and how you get it.
- Many staff receive minimal training related to dementia
The person with dementia’s family doctor or nurse practitioner (who may also be your provider too) will oversee their medical care and may make referrals to specialists as needed.
Family doctors and nurse practitioners are often referred to as “primary care providers”. Your primary care provider may have nurses or other allied health professionals involved as members of their care team.
It is common for family doctors and nurse practitioners to diagnose dementia and manage the care of the person with dementia. However, sometimes referrals to specialists are needed.
Specialists that work in dementia care might include geriatricians, geriatric physiatrists, or neurologists. Specialists can help conduct assessments and provide you or the family doctor with a specific diagnosis and recommendations for a care management plan.
You may find that some specialists (like the ones named above) will have allied health professionals such as nurses, occupational therapists, dieticians or social workers help to manage patient care.
No matter who makes the diagnosis of dementia, the person receiving the diagnosis and their care partner(s) should be quickly connected to the Alzheimer’s Society through the First Link program.
- Any health care provider can make a referral to the First Link program. Visit the Alzheimer’s Society to learn more about First Link.
- Or, call 1-800-616-8816 to get connected in your region.
Home and community services
Home and community services can help you and the person you support to live at home independently and safely. Each province differs slightly in how services are delivered, but the home and community care coordinates access to provincially funded allied health professionals and care in the home.
Services may be offered by:
- Occupational therapists
- Speech language pathologists
- Social Workers
Services by the providers named above may include assistance with medications, showering, dressing, transportation, meals, and other support around the house.
Home care is provided by your provincial home and community care program. Here are some examples:
For other provinces, please see the Provincial Resources page.
If your needs or the person with dementia’s needs are greater than the available supports that are covered by the province, additional services may be purchased privately. Your local home and community support agency may be able to connect you to private services in your area.
Care Needs Assessment
The person you support may be able to apply for a care needs assessment to help work out which services and financial support they may be entitled to. Although each province is different, these assessments are often free and may available through your provincial health and social services.
An assessment can evaluate what home and community services are available to you or the person you care for, such as:
- Equipment (walkers or personal alarms),
- Home adaptations (such as a raised bath seat)
- Practical home help from a paid personal support worker
- Access to day centres and meal services
- Moving to an assisted living or long term care or facility
To find local information about Home and Community services, see Resources by Province.
Care partner support organizations
The Alzheimer Society provides information and education and, depending on the society, they may also provide counselling services and run support groups for people with dementia and/or care partners.
The Alzheimer’s society provides telephone or online support, as well as face to face support.
To find your local Alzheimer’s Society click your provincial link below. On the top left of the page you can click “Change your Society” and select your local chapter.
- Alzheimer Society of British Columbia: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of Manitoba: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of Ontario: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of Quebec: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward Island: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia: Click Here
- Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador: Click Here
Here are some national organizations that you might find helpful:
- Dementia Advocacy Canada is a grassroots organization made up of people with dementia and caregivers who want to influence policy and create better access to care and social services for people with dementia and caregivers. You can connect with others who have dementia or are care partners and become involved in advocacy work.
- Caregiving Matters offers online support and education for caregivers.
Contact your local Alzheimer's Society
- Find your local chapter to get connected to resources and support in your community. Ask about their First Link program.
Contact Home and Community Care
- Find out more about what is available to you and the person you support by contacting your local Home and Community Care organization.