According to population projections, by 2041 almost 25% of Canadians will be over the age of 65 (Employment and Social Development Canada, 2011). Since the risk of dementia and neurodegenerative
disease increases with age, the number of Canadians living with these conditions will grow and there will be increasing healthcare costs (Canadian Institutes of Health Research). To prepare for this inevitability, the federal government must support the development and implementation of innovative and cost effective methods of treating the symptoms of neurodegenerative disease.
Nearly all individuals with neurodegenerative disease will experience some level of communication and/ or swallowing impairment. Without intervention, they also will experience reduced quality of life, negative health outcomes, and incur greater costs to the healthcare system. Speech-language pathologists (S-LPs) have long been providing effective, evidence-based assessment and interventions and therefore should be included in any national health innovation strategies for this population.
This submission will outline the role of S-LPs in caring for patients with neurodegenerative disease, and clarify how timely provision of S-LP services prevents admissions to hospital and delays premature admission to long term care. Finally, recommendations are provided regarding steps the government can take to support future innovations to enhance S-LP services.
Submission from the Canadian Infant Hearing Task Force (CIHTF), a joint effort of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) and the Canadian Academy of Audiology (CAA)
This submission aims to focus on the establishment of a national standard for EHDI programs throughout Canada. The ideal EHDI program is comprehensive, beginning with newborn hearing screening for all babies before being discharged from the hospital after birth or shortly after birth for those babies born outside of hospitals. In many developed countries, EHDI programs have become a standard of care. The United States boasts a screening rate of at least 97% of newborns. In Canada, many newborns are still not being screened depending on where they are born and therefore are not being diagnosed and enrolled in essential early intervention services.
The great disparity in services at the provincial and territorial levels is concerning. The CIHTF urges the federal government to take a leadership role and work with the provinces and territories to ensure equal access to these EHDI programs and services.