Two doctors look at scans

Explorations into health system solutions for Parkinson’s in Canada

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100,000+ Canadians are currently living with Parkinson’s and that number grows every day.

Unfortunately, the present healthcare system does not reflect this growing need. There are roughly 770 community neurologists in Canada and less than 80 neurologists specialized in treating movement disorders like Parkinson’s. Most of these specialists are in major urban centres within the provinces, posing a geographical barrier for rural, northern and remote Canadians with Parkinson’s.

Currently, wait times and diagnosis are some of the biggest challenges faced by those living with Parkinson’s, with some Canadians waiting up to three years for a diagnosis.

Faster diagnosis, shorter wait times for specialized care and Parkinson’s informed care within the community means earlier and more effective intervention. This leads to improved health outcomes, reduces stress and anxiety for the person with Parkinson’s as well as their care partners, and gives people the ability to take steps to live well with Parkinson’s Disease sooner.

Group sitting in classroom style room

For these reasons and more, last week Parkinson Canada was thrilled to host a session with people living with Parkinson’s, their care partners, and clinician researchers, from across the country to identify challenges and brainstorm solutions for accessing Parkinson’s care in Canada.

With attendees both in-person and virtual from coast-to-coast, sessions allowed for all participants to share their knowledge, ideas and personal experiences.

These sessions included:

  • Access to care and the role of Parkinson Canada (Parkinson Canada)
  • Identifying the challenges with access to care for Parkinson’s (all participants)
  • Presentation on a Dementia care model, Ontario (Dr. Linda Lee)
  • Presentation on the value of digital tools to support healthcare infrastructure from Think Research
  • Presentation on Project ECHO Ontario for Epilepsy (Annie Jiwan, Salma Hussein)

The event culminated in a full group brainstorming session, moderated by Dr. David Klein, Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, and Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Dean and Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, which provided insight on the possible direction and next steps based on their expertise in advocacy and health policy.

Jon Affleck smiling

While there is much work to do, collaboration such as this is the key to inspiring practical solutions that will improve access to specialized care, reduce wait times to diagnosis and treatment, create stronger networks of Parkinson’s healthcare providers and facilitate stronger connection between clinics and community services.

If you would like to learn more about challenges faced by Canadians living with Parkinson’s such as wait times and diagnosis, please check out our provincial Roundtable Reports.