Alzheimer’s Society opens resource centre in Prince Albert

Jodi Schellenberg
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Instead of looking for help in other communities, families and patients dealing with dementia will now have help right in the region.

Special guests and Alzheimer’s Society members officially open the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region’s First Link Resource Centre on Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan Alzheimer’s Society officially opened a resource centre in the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region to better help those in the community.

Joanne Michael, program service manager for the society, said it was an important milestone to conclude Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

“Dementia is a growing concern in our province, our country and throughout the world,” Michael said. “Here in Saskatchewan, we have made dementia a health-care priority, which now is evident through the government’s commitment to expand the First Link program across the province through our four new Alzheimer’s Society Resource Centres.”

The provincial government committed more than $400,000 to support the growth of the program in the province, supporting four new resource centres, including the one in Prince Albert.

“Every health-care decision we make is accessed through a patient first lens, which means access to high quality health services that make a real difference for patients and their families,” Prince Albert/Northcote MLA Victoria Jurgens said. “We have heard from caregivers that First Link and other Alzheimer’s Society services are critical to helping them fulfil that goal. Most importantly, we have heard that First Link and the Alzheimer’s Society have helped patients and their caregivers become more confident in their ability to deal with that diagnosis.”

The Saskatchewan Alzheimer’s Society was grateful for the support not only from the provincial government, but also from the health region for giving the resource centre a location in their building.

“Partnerships are a key component of the First Link program,” Michael said. “Being part of the community here, where our clients live, is also critical.

“We know it is difficult for people affected by dementia to ask for help,” she added. “Having access to Alzheimer’s Society programs and Services in your own community through the First Link program removes barriers and increased access to essential support.”

Prince Albert was chosen for a resource centre since there was a support system through PAPHR as well as a dementia population that was being underserved, Michaels said.

“Prior to this resource centre, we were trying to provide service to this region from Saskatoon and Regina and we just weren’t able to do that effectively,” Michaels said. “The partnership was there, the people were willing to have us and host us and we are so excited to be in the community and able to serve people with dementia.”

There will be a huge benefit to both people living with dementia and their families through the centre.

“We have already found that having a physical presence in Prince Albert as well as the other new resource centre has increased referrals to our organization, increased participation in our program and just being present in a community helps to keep our organization and the programs and services we provide top of mind because we are part of the community,” Michael said.

Bronwen Porcina, who was born and raised in Prince Albert and received a Bachelor of Social Work from Dalhousie University, will be the First Link co-ordinator for the Prince Albert Parkland region.

“When the opportunity came up that the Alzheimer’s Society was going to opening in Prince Albert, I really wanted to grab on to it,” Porcina said.

Since her parents were once on the board of the Alzheimer’s Society, it is a cause near and dear to her heart.

“Being here and being in a city I am aware of and being able to give back is a wonderful feeling,” Porcina said. “What is happening now is dementia itself is becoming quite an epidemic within not only Saskatchewan but Canada itself and North America in general because of things such as head injuries, people’s change in daily habits such as eating habits, alcoholism, smoking -- all of those things have affected the amount of people who are being diagnosed with dementia.

“It is something that is really prevalent and I feel that it is important -- it can affect anyone,” she added. “We are seeing people younger, we are seeing people who have had head injuries and may have taken wrong medications seeing dementia symptoms so it is something that is really important and I think really needs to be addressed.”

The cases of dementia have been rising, which was predicted by an Alzheimer Society project called Rising Tide.

“At that time they predicted within a generation, we would have over one million Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia,” vice president of integrated health services for PAPHR Carol Gregoryk said. “One of the recommendations in the Rising Tide report was to build support for people with dementia and that is what First Link does.

“Our region can’t say enough about the impact having the Frist Link program here in Prince Albert,” Gregoryk said. “It is an opportunity to have a direct link right here in our community to access the services of the Alzheimer’s Society.

“They help navigate people through the system, which our health system can be hard to navigate through, especially when you are dealing with someone who is having significant memory loss,” she added. “It is really important for us to be able to link with the Alzheimer’s Society to have those families have that resource.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Dalhousie University, Alzheimer Society

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Regina Parkland Canada North America

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