People living with dementia have created the first-ever Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia

Mary Schulz, the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s director of education.

Alzheimer Society of Canada has launched the charter to raise awareness surrounding the unique rights people with dementia have

The Alzheimer Society of Canada today (Sept. 5) launched the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia, a first-of-its-kind framework outlining the rights people with dementia have. The charter was created by an advisory board of people living with dementia.

While people with dementia are guaranteed the same rights as anyone else under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they also have additional, unique rights because of the circumstances of the condition the live with, Mary Schulz, the director of education for the Alzheimer Society of Canada, tells The OMNIway.

“(The charter) is really (about) trying to remind people that a person with dementia is a citizen with the same rights and responsibilities as every other citizen, but there are additional things that need to be considered when it comes to enjoying their human rights,” she says.

These are the seven key points of the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia:

– To be free from discrimination of any kind
– To benefit from all of Canada’s civic and legal rights
– To participate in developing and implementing policies that affect their life
– To access support and opportunities to live as independent and engaged citizens in their community
– To be informed and supported so they can fully participate in decisions affecting their care and life, from the point of diagnosis to palliative and end-of-life care
– To expect that professionals involved in all aspects of their care are trained in dementia and human rights and are accountable to uphold these rights
– To access effective complaint and appeal procedures when their rights are not protected or respected

Many long-term care homes and operators already have their own residents’ charters of rights, and the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia can be complementary to those frameworks, Schulz says.

Schulz says what she and the Alzheimer Society are most proud of with this charter is the fact that it was created by people living with dementia to benefit people living with dementia.

The goals of the charter, she adds, are to help people understand that people living with dementia have additional rights because of the uniqueness of their condition, to end the stigma surrounding dementia and to encourage others to “pause and reflect” when engaging with people living with dementia to ensure their rights are being respected.

“It’s really putting a stake in the ground and saying, ‘people with dementia are the same as every other Canadian,’ ” Schulz says. “They enjoy the same rights as all Canadians enjoy through the Canadian Charter of Rights; but specifically, people with dementia have unique rights because of the challenges that can come with having the disease and the stigma attached to the disease.”

– More to come

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