PREMIER Christy Clark’s promise to take action and address the growing number of British Columbians with dementia must be followed by action, say the B.C. New Democrats.

“Many people in the province have a friend or family member that’s been affected by dementia,” said New Democrat Critic for Seniors Katrine Conroy on Wednesday. “In order to ensure that those impacted by this devastating condition are properly cared for in high quality facilities where patient safety is a priority, the government needs to fulfill their promise to address the issue and follow it up with real action.”

Recent tragedies involving people with dementia shed light on the severity of the condition as well as the urgent need to put plans in place to minimize dementia’s devastating consequences. Conroy noted that last month, a 95-year-old Vernon senior was found unfit to stand trial due to severe dementia after his roommate at a seniors care facility died following a physical altercation, and just this week a retired nurse living with dementia in a North Vancouver care home died after wandering away from the facility in freezing temperatures.

Conroy says that while the Premier’s call for action on dementia is welcome, not enough has been done in recent years to improve the quality of care in existing facilities for the growing number of people with dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, over 70,000 people in British Columbia currently suffer from a form of dementia.

“While the government does need to look at expanding the number of beds available for people with dementia, they should start with taking action and improving the beds our health care system actually does have. So far the Liberal government has failed to make changes that would really improve services for people with dementia such as appointing a fully independent seniors advocate or implementing the Ombudsperson’s recommendations on seniors care,” Conroy said.

B.C.’s New Democrats are calling on the B.C. Liberal government to fulfill their promise to take action on dementia and improve care and safety for those living with the disease.