‘Profound need’ for Alzheimer’s funding here

An appeal for help convincing Fraser Health to strengthen resources for Alzheimer’s patients has received the support of White Rock council.

It is “well-worthy of action from council,” Coun. Helen Fathers said following a presentation last month by Stan Fryer, a facilitator at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s White Rock Resource Centre.

Fryer told council of as-yet unsuccessful efforts to convince Fraser Health officials to commit financially to First Link, an early intervention service that helps connect those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementia with services and support as quickly as possible after diagnosis.

Fraser Health is one of the few districts in B.C. that doesn’t have the service, Fryer said Dec. 17.

“They haven’t released the money to hire (a co-ordinator),” he said.

But a Fraser Health spokesman said word of the request for financial support was news to program directors he spoke to.

“None of the program directors I spoke to were aware of a request from the White Rock community for Fraser Health to provide financial support for First Link in that community,” Roy Thorpe-Dorward said by email last week.

Fraser Health does, however, provide “in kind” support, Thorpe-Dorward notes, citing access to meeting rooms for the First Link advisory committee and provision of space for an annual provincial learning forum.

“Interdisciplinary teams also assist the First Link co-ordinator in accessing physicians in our communities and getting onto agendas for presentations, etc.,” he writes.

Thorpe-Dorward describes Fraser Health as “very supportive” of initiatives such as First Link, but says the health authority “has had to restrict funding to our ‘core programs.’”

Fryer – noting that about 80 per cent of 200 to 300 calls to the White Rock Alzheimer’s office every month are from those dealing with a new diagnosis – told council the need for First Link here is profound.

He was speaking from experience. He and his wife, Shirley, had been married 54 years when Shirley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2002.

“We had tears for the next six months wondering what would happen to us,” he said.

“Fraser Health, they have the money (for a co-ordinator), they just haven’t made the decision.”

A motion by Fathers to refer the matter to staff “to see if we can come up with something to help,” received unanimous support.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin also pledged to take the issue to the Fraser Health committee he sits on.


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