Memory Clinics expanding to underserviced area, helps patients living with dementia receive care closer to home

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A model that allows family doctors to care directly for patients with memory problems associated with dementia and other conditions is being expanded to 17 clinics in rural, remote and underserviced communities across Ontario, including Tillsonburg.

Expansion of the Primary Care Memory Clinic model will permit many more Ontario residents to receive appropriate care closer to home, making more efficient use of limited specialist resources by reserving referrals for complex cases.

Clinics will be established thanks to the Adopting Research to Improve Care (ARTIC) Program, a proven model that accelerates the spread and implementation of evidence-based health care interventions across Ontario. ARTIC is co-led by the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) and Health Quality Ontario, and is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

“Early in my career, I saw a big gap in care for persons with memory problems who were undiagnosed or undertreated,” said Dr. Linda Lee, a family physician with expertise in care for the elderly who developed the Primary Care Memory Clinic concept, in a Jan. 23 media release.

“Through this model, primary care teams are building capacity to care for patients living with dementia, and support their caregivers too, right in their own communities.”

The memory clinic approach is based on providing appropriate training to family physicians and other primary care team members to care for patients with memory disorders. It has reduced the need for specialist referrals from up to 80 per cent of patients with memory issues to fewer than 10 per cent who require specialist level care, improving the patient and caregiver experience.

The Primary Care Memory Clinic model creates a collaborative system that integrates primary care and specialist care by training primary care teams, including physicians and other health care professionals, using an accredited five-day training program.

“The memory clinics are an exciting model of inter-professional care, and they are representative of the evidencebased interventions ARTIC is designed to support,” said Karen Michell, Executive Director of CAHO.

There are over 75 Primary Care Memory Clinics across Ontario. Thanks to ARTIC, 17 more clinics will be created in remote, rural and underserviced communities. These communities include Tillsonburg, Chatham, Harrow, Lion’s Head, Manitouwadge, Northbrook, Portland, Red Lake, Schreiber, Temiskaming Shores, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Windsor, and Zurich.

“ARTIC is the only Canadian program that focuses exclusively on implementing evidence-based interventions across multiple sites,” said Michell. “It’s about spreading what we already know works.”

“Memory clinics have already made a big impact on the daily lives of patients and caregivers facing dementia,” said Dr. Joshua Tepper, President and CEO of Health Quality Ontario. “The ARTIC Program is extending that impact across isolated parts of our province, helping even more patients receive the care and support they need.”

“Our government made a platform commitment to support the creation of new memory clinics across the province to help improve access to high quality coordinated care for people with dementia and their care providers,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “With today’s announcement, we’ve made significant progress on meeting that commitment and will continue to improve dementia supports through the development of Ontario’s Dementia Strategy.”

For more information, view this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEvZ8zCkOVw&feature=youtu.be) about memory clinics in Ontario. 

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