On Saturday, 27 May, Minister for Health & Wellness, Hon. Sabrina Turner, presented the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Association of the Cayman Islands (ADACI) with a grant on behalf of the Ministry of Health & Wellness in the amount of CI$50,000.
“It is my privilege to be able to support ADACI and the wonderful work that they have done, and continue to do, for the individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, their families and caregivers,” Minister Turner states. “This one-time grant is separate and apart from the organisation’s request for ongoing and consistent funding, which is currently being reviewed as part of the 2024-2025 budget cycle. However, my hope is that these funds will provide more stability, and help to enhance the organisation’s internal capacity, as they deliver numerous services to individuals, families and the community,” Minister Turner adds.
There is a growing focus on dementia globally as the burden of care relating to treatment and management is making its way to the forefront of competing priorities worldwide. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Plan on dementia has called for governments to develop national plans and policies on dementia by the year 2025.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness has been and is continuing to work to gain a better understanding of local data when it comes to a range of non-communicable diseases,” Dr. Nick Gent, Chief Medical Officer, explains. “Understanding the local prevalence of dementia is essential in order for us to take a data-driven approach to decision making that takes into consideration not only what is happening now, but also what will be necessary in the future. At the moment, we have a very good system of providing in-home care to persons diagnosed with dementia. However, this does not mean that there is no room for improvements or to help facilitate and improve care, or even that there is no need to strengthen the existing structure,” he adds.
Dr. Gent also notes the impact which the diagnosis has on the health and wellness of family members of those living with dementia. “Our discussions around dementia must include the burden of care of the disease on family members and caregivers. We appreciate the severity and destructiveness of this terrible illness which robs family of their connection and interaction with loved ones, and the tremendous sacrifice that care demands,” he concludes.
“A national dementia plan is one that extends far beyond health and actually looks at addressing the needs of individuals diagnosed with dementia and their families holistically,” Minister Turner explains. “ADACI has been doing a tremendous job educating the community on how a dementia diagnosis impacts all facets of an individual’s life. There is a social component, a financial component, an educational component for family and caregivers, legal components, physical safety components, nutrition, and so much more. No one is questioning that health will need to lead the way, in partnership with organisations like ADACI. However, to do this effectively and to bring on board the various other Ministries, departments, NGOs and private sector players, health has to be equipped with accurate and relevant data that will move those partners to action,” Minister Turner adds.
While the Ministry of Health and Wellness works to better understand the true picture of dementia in the Cayman Islands, and works behinds the scene by reviewing extensive research on prevention and better management of dementia, the grant to ADACI will assist the organisation in helping to support operational costs, which include providing care packages to individuals in need of assistance, offering coverage for medication when such is needed due to extraordinary circumstances, and addressing other immediate needs that presents itself.
“I am overwhelmed and grateful to the entire Ministry of Health and Wellness for this generous donation,” Mrs. Dorothy Davis, founder and chair of ADACI, added. “We have been working hard at ADACI to provide support to individuals, families and caregivers, to educate and raise awareness in the community as a whole and among key services provider in particular, to train primary caregivers and to ensure the training is accessible to all, and we have even invested in getting key medical personnel trained off island, among many other things,” Mrs. Davis continues. “ADACI is committed to working with the Ministry however is necessary. We are also happy to state that we have, in fact, made some progress when it comes to laying down the foundation for a national dementia plan- we have established communications with the Ministry and we are doing awareness and education work in the community, all things which many other places in the region have not yet been able to get to. We are looking forward to strengthening our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and to continue to push for more access and more holistic services to all those impacted by dementia,” she concludes.