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Dementia research project receives $3 million grant from Employment and Social Development Canada

News Release Release Date: November 20, 2019 10:00 a.m.

A University of Regina research team has received a $3 million grant from Employment and Social Development Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program for a 5-year research project to improve the lives of older adults living with dementia in small cities and rural communities in Saskatchewan.

The Interventions to Enhance Social Inclusion of Older Adults with Dementia in Saskatchewan project is being led by Dr. Bonnie Jeffery, Faculty of Social Work University of Regina, Prince Albert Campus and includes Dr. Tom McIntosh (Politics and International Studies) and Dr. Nuelle Novik (Social Work). The project is being conducted through the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU), a bi-university research centre at the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan.

Since 1999, SPHERU has established itself as a leader in cutting-edge population health research that not only looks at the what and the why of health inequities -– but also at how to address these and take action.

“Services and interventions for older adults with dementia tend to be concentrated in larger urban centres and those who live in smaller and rural communities have much fewer supports,” said Jeffery. “Saskatchewan, with its wide-spread rural population, is an ideal place to explore what interventions can best enhance the quality of lives of people with dementia that live in smaller communities and rural areas.”

Older adults living in small cities or rural communities face unique barriers to accessing dementia care, which are compounded by limited finances, education, public transportation, and geographic distance. Approximately one third of Saskatchewan’s one million residents live in rural communities and over 19,000 people are affected by dementia with an estimated sixty per cent living in their own homes.

The research team will be collaborating with the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan and other provincial organizations to examine individual, community and organizational level supports and initiatives that will improve the lives of people with dementia and their care partners, through supporting greater social inclusion.

“The lack of dementia knowledge and awareness perpetuates stigma and stereotypes of people with dementia and their care partners,” said Joanne Bracken CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan. “We know from research that after finding a cure, eliminating stigma is the next biggest concern for people with dementia. We believe this project has the potential to address this issue in a meaningful way.”

The project will focus on improving the public’s awareness of the stigma and social isolation experienced by people with dementia and work to improve their social inclusion. It will look at increasing and improving the availability and appropriateness of family and community supports for them and their care partners.

Examples of interventions at the individual, community and organizational levels can include:

  • Providing individuals living with dementia and their care partners an opportunity to participate in group activities that build social connections and improves physical fitness;
  • Supporting communities with a framework and tools to engage those living with dementia and their care partners to participate fully in community life; and
  • Engaging businesses and organizations to adopt policies and practices that facilitate those living with dementia and their care partners to fully access their services.

“The University appreciates the support that the Government of Canada is providing to this very important work which will have a direct impact on improving the lives of older adults living with dementia not just in rural Saskatchewan but in rural communities across Canada,” said Dr. Kathleen McNutt, Vice-President (Research), University of Regina.

The New Horizons for Seniors Program is a federal grants and contributions program that supports projects that make a difference in the lives of seniors and their communities.

Note to media: Dr. Bonnie Jeffery and the other members of the research team will be in Regina on November 20 – 22, 2019, to arrange interviews contact Everett Dorma as noted above.

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About the University of Regina

The University of Regina—with campuses located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, and Lakota nations and the homeland of the Métis—is a comprehensive, mid-sized university that traces its roots back to the creation of Regina College in 1911. Today, more than 16,500 students study within the University's 10 faculties, 25 academic departments/schools, 18 research centres and institutes, and three federated colleges (Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College). The University of Regina has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. In 2017, the University of Regina was ranked in the Top 200 Best Young Universities in the world by Times Higher Education.

 

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