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Published Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC) aims to be an effective lobbyist for issues important to the Parkinson’s community. With the grassroots support of our advocacy networks, we have influenced the Ministry of Health to increase funding and access to crucial Parkinson’s disease (PD) treatments, like Duodopa® therapy and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery.

In the past year, the Society focused its efforts on providing incentive funding to support the hiring of allied healthcare professionals (AHCPs) in both the Interior and Island Health Authorities. AHCPs provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the care of people with Parkinson’s disease. By allowing people to live independently for longer, this not only improves quality of life, but reduces the overall impact on the healthcare system by decreasing hospital admissions due to issues such as aspiration or fractures.

Location remains a primary barrier British Columbians face in accessing Parkinson’s-specific care. The majority of specialists treating neurodegenerative disorders are located in the Lower Mainland, forcing patients to travel from across the province. Funding local movement disorder clinics and other healthcare providers is an important first step to bringing specialized care closer to home for thousands of families impacted by PD.

Interior Health

The Central Okanagan has the highest crude prevalence rate of Parkinsonism in the province —increasing approximately 17% in the past five years.To support our community in the Okanagan, we are providing incentive funding for several AHCPs through the Okanagan Movement Disorder Program. This funding, in the amount of $445,000, will support a part-time physiotherapist, a part-time speech-language pathologist, and a part-time social worker, over five years. Funding for these positions will transition into the Health Authority’s base budget in years four and five.

Press Release - Funding of ACHP with Interior Health Authority 

Island Health

There are roughly 2,650 people with Parkinson’sliving in the Vancouver Island Health Authority region. A partnership between Island Health and PSBC has allowed for expedited hiring of a full-time speech-language pathologist, bringing better care to people affected by Parkinson’s disease in the region. The Society will provide funding, totalling $498,000 over five years, for this position. Funding will transition into the Health Authority’s base budget in years four and five.

Press Release - Funding of Speech-Language Pathologist with Island Health Authority

Next Steps

Increasing access to AHCPs across the province remains one of the Society’s top advocacy priorities. Alongside providing direct funding, we are also committed to influencing policy makers to implement long-term supports for people with Parkinson’s and their families, wherever they may live. Access to Parkinson’s-specific therapies for those with advanced symptoms also remains extremely limited. Duodopa®and DBS can alleviate pain and severe disablement in people with PD, but waitlists are long, and only a small number of people can receive these treatments each year. In our submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services this June, PSBC recommended supporting individuals to access DBS in other provinces until capacity improves in BC, and removing the cap onthe number of individuals who can receive Duodopa®.This will be the platform for our advocacy efforts this fall, after the provincial election. You can help by asking the candidates in your riding what their party will do to increase care for people with Parkinson’s.

Do you want to support our advocacy campaigns? Contact Jean Blake, CEO, at jblake@parkinson.bc.cato learn about how you can get involved. Our advocacyefforts are funded by the generous support of our donors and members. Help us make a difference by donating online today at www.parkinson.bc.ca/donate.

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