Column: Simmons-Wade On Dementia Care

July 2, 2024 | 0 Comments

[Opinion column written by PLP MP Ianthia Simmons-Wade]

As the former Chair of the Aging Well Committee, a seniors’ advocate and the daughter of a parent with dementia, I know firsthand the impact of dementia on individuals, their families and the community.

I am pleased at the progress, under the leadership of the Minister of Youth, Social Development & Seniors Tinee Furbert, in enhancing the social safety net around dementia care services.

The disease that causes dementia affects cognitive functions, memory, thinking and behaviour, making it difficult for individuals to perform daily function and being able to live independently. With our increasingly ageing population, the need for better senior support services has become more critical. Your Bermuda Progressive Labour Party continues to develop a strong foundation for seniors care and services.

The government’s action plan on Dementia, spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth, Social Development, and Seniors, in partnership with the Bermuda Health Council, is developing comprehensive and targeted solutions that address the needs of persons with dementia, their families and caregivers.

Government partnering with the private sector and the community is an inclusive approach that provides better ideas and outcomes for this very serious health issue.

The pilot programme includes:

  • Specialised support and intervention services including environmental assessments, cognitive screening, cognitive compensatory strategies, personal care planning, case management, caregiver education as well as crisis intervention and prevention.
  • Affordable access to these services
  • Expansion of existing services while progressively enhancing the quality of care available to Bermudians

The initial pilot programme hosted 50 persons with dementia who were either uninsured or underinsured giving them the care services they desperately needed. Many people were unable to afford copays for dementia services or even to cover their medical costs. The number of persons who had never been formally diagnosed with dementia was significant. Some had no relatives or support system to assist them. Almost 50% who did have family or caregivers were shown to be suffering from severe stress.

This pilot programme produced transformative results, giving participants the support they needed and reducing the stress being experienced by their families & caregivers. As a result of this success, the programme is being extended for another 6 months with plans to expand the programme and widen the social safety net for more people.

Bermudian families under this programme will be better equipped to navigate the complexities of dementia. I believe it will reduce hospital admissions and improve the quality of life for those persons with dementia.

As we move forward in collaboration with public and private sector partners, your PLP Government is making significant strides in improving the lives of many Bermudians diagnosed with dementia and their families. This commitment to expanding and improving dementia care is a testament to our shared goal of building a compassionate and supportive community.

Together, we can ensure that those affected by dementia have access to the care and support they deserve. The PLP Government’s proactive approach continues to set a precedent for healthcare innovation and community support for our seniors.

- MP Ianthia Simmons-Wade, Constituency 25 – Warwick North East

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