Who to refer to First Link?


When to refer?


Why refer?


Who can make a referral?


How to refer?


What happens when the Alzheimer Society receives the First Link referral?


Additional Reading

Making a Referral to First Link

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First Link Referral Form

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Benefits of a First Link Referral

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Connecting to the right supports early in the dementia journey, can make a big difference in the quality of life for both the person with dementia and the care partner.  First Link® connects individuals and families to:


Dementia education programs offering information about diagnosis and disease progression, day-to-day living, positive approaches to care, strategies for responding to challenges and how to prepare for the future.


Alzheimer Society programs and services, information about other community and health services.


Support groups and individual support.


Watch this short video to hear from Christene Gordon, Provincial Lead, Client Services, about how the First Link program can help with the dementia journey.


First Link Alberta video

Watch this short, animated video about the First Link referral program and how it opens the door to counselling and support programs.


Additional Reading

Benefits of a First Link Referral

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First Link Brochure

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Our Vision

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.


Our Mission

The Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories brings awareness to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias; helps alleviate the personal and social consequences of the disease; provides information, education and support programs; and promotes and funds research into the cause, prevention and cure.


Our Regional Offices

The Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories has locations in the following communities:

" Yellowknife

" Fort McMurray

" Grande Prairie

" Edmonton

" Red Deer

" Lethbridge

" Medicine Hat

In exactly the same way we use different names or titles to label the different types of a common cold, we use different names or titles to label the different diagnoses of dementia.

Naming Dementia

While dementia may be the title we give to the disease, there are many types of dementia as illustrated here. Dementia is an umbrella term.

Mixed dementia is diagnosed when the person living with dementia experiences more than one type concurrently.

There are however other types of dementia that we don't deal with in this introduction. More information about the other types of dementia is available via the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories Client Services team.

Collaborer avec le personnel de l’établissement de soins longue durée pour qu’il puisse satisfaire aux besoins particuliers de votre proche nécessite de bien communiquer et de tisser des liens harmonieux avec celui-ci.

Guide : Réfléchissez à la façon dont vous aimeriez communiquer avec le personnel de l’établissement de soins de longue durée où votre proche a été admis. Répondez aux questions ci-dessous pour obtenir des idées sur ce qu’il faut communiquer au personnel.

Voir aussi la section Ressources pour obtenir des conseils au sujet de la communication avec le personnel.

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Working with care home staff so they can meet your family member’s unique needs requires communication and relationship building on both sides.

Guide: Think about how you would like to communicate and work with staff at the care home your family member/friend is at. Answer the questions below to get some ideas about what to communicate with staff.

For tips on advocacy and communicating with staff, see the helpful resources section.

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It will take time for both of you to adjust to your new situation. Keep in mind that there is no correct number of times to visit the person during this period. For some people, the strain of caregiving has been such that they need a "rest" during the first few weeks after moving. Others will want to go as often as possible during the first few weeks.

Whatever you decide during this period is the right decision for you. Go as often as you want and stay for as long as you feel comfortable. The important thing is to make each visit — no matter the length or the frequency — as full and rewarding as possible for both of you.

The person with dementia will also need some time to adjust to the new environment. Try to be patient as she settles in. For some, this may take weeks or months; for others, it may be less. Communicate closely with the staff during this adjustment period.

Here we have a conversation between care home director Marlene Collins and host Liana Shannon.  Marlene shares her experiences working with families, staff and residents. Watch the video and learn about what to expect in the adjustment period and how care partners and staff can work together.

What you might be feeling…

As a care partner, you will experience a broad range of emotions once the person you have cared for has moved to a long-term care home. You may feel guilty. You may feel relieved that the responsibility of providing care is no longer solely on your shoulders. You may even experience second thoughts about your decision. These are all normal reactions.

More Learning Resources

My Tools 4 Care – In Care

Progression Series: Overview

Progression Series: Late Stage

Long-Term Care: Adjusting after the move

All About Me Booklet

Accessing a care home can appear like a major undertaking to care partners. The information below will give you more tools to navigate the health system.

From the beginning of this program, we have encouraged you to get organized by ensuring you had conversations with your person with dementia to know their wishes. We also encouraged you to ensure a Personal Directive and an Enduring Power of Attorney document were completed. This is the time you will need to use these documents to help you make decisions. Use the wishes of the person to guide you.

You will hear a lot of different terms used by health professionals. Click on the following link to learn the common words and their meaning via the Continuing Care Glossary: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page15500.aspx

How to?

In Alberta, Supportive Living sites can be accessed through Continuing Care services. This includes long-term care. You may already be connected with Continuing Care if you are receiving Home Care.

Anyone can call to start services and determine what you are eligible for.

Find out more information here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page15487.aspx

The first step is to get connected with a Case Manager. This is a health professional who will assess the needs of the person with dementia as well as the care partner’s needs. They also handle the application to supportive living sites. If the person living with dementia is currently in hospital, the transition coordinator will be involved with the application.

Find out more information here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page15484.aspx

Where to?

With the help of a case manager, the needs of the person living with dementia will steer you towards the type of accommodation to look for.

Find more information about Continuing Care Services here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page15339.aspx.

Alberta Health Services has a Continuing Care Facility Directory that can help you narrow down your search.

You can access more information here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/page15328.aspx#ccfd.

Making the decision to move the person you have been caring for into a care home is a difficult decision. We discuss options and preparations with care home director, Marlene Collins.


Being prepared can help make this decision less stressful. Often, when a vacancy becomes available in a long-term care home, you will need to make a quick decision about accepting it. Familiarize yourself with the long-term care homes in your area and ask questions about the home's services, policies and costs beforehand. This will help you make the best decision.

A number of resource people can help you in your search for an appropriate long-term care home. These may include your local Alzheimer Society, support groups, friends or family, doctors, faith leaders, social workers, social service agencies or local organizations for seniors.


More Learning Resources

Progression Series: Overview

Progression Series: Late Stage

Long-Term Care: Considering the Move to a Long-Term Care Home

All About Me Booklet


This session includes the following parts:

Part 1:  Making the Decision to Move

Part 2:  Accessing a Care Home

Part 3:  Adjusting to the Move

Part 4:  Communicating with Care Home Staff

Part 5:  Questions for Reflection


Work through the various parts in the session at your leisure. Move from one part to another at your own pace and in the order that makes sense to you, based on your own needs and interests.

At any time, you may scroll to the Search bar and type a specific question or topic to learn more.