Seniors in long-term care facilities

Seniors in care to be asked how to improve services

Office of the Seniors Advocate is trying to figure out how to improve life for those in long-term care facilities

The Office of the Seniors Advocate is trying to figure out how to improve life for those in long-term care facilities by hearing from those most familiar with it.

Isobel Mackenzie’s office is currently recruiting volunteers to help them complete the largest and most in-depth survey of its kind ever completed in the province, where they will be interviewing seniors in long-term care to find out how to make life better for them.

“We’re interviewing 27,000 residents province-wide by December, and we need volunteers in every community to go out and interview residents in long-term care facilities,” says regional engagement lead for the Office of the Seniors Advocate Tina Biello, who is overseeing the Vancouver Island volunteer recruitment.

“It’s basically a patient-centred survey to get feedback on what life is like for them in care,” Biello says. “And it’s never been done to this size before.”

The survey and its methodology was developed through a 14-moth consultative process involving key stakeholders in long-term care, including health authorities, family members, union representatives, community groups and academic experts – along with the facilities themselves.

“It’s a pretty long questionnaire,” Biello says, “asking about everything from food to privacy to personal care to medications … everything that covers what life is like for them – from their perspective.”

Once the information is gathered, Mackenzie will compile a report which will be both publicly available and presented to the provincial government. Facility-specific reports will also be made available to the care facilities themselves so they can see how their residents feel about the different facets of life there and make improvements accordingly.

“Through this comprehensive and standardized approach,” Mackenzie says, “we will be able to learn from the people who call residential care their home what impacts their quality of life and whether we are meeting their needs.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the survey can go online to surveybcseniors.org or call 1-877-952-3181 to learn more or sign up to be a volunteer.

There is some training involved, and volunteers will have to undergo a criminal record check, but the demand is not that extensive, Biello says, and volunteers find they actually love the experience once they get started.

“They need to commit 30-35 hours with us over the course of six to eight weeks,” Biello says, “so it’s not too much. And usually what we find is that once they’ve started doing it, they love it so much they actually continue on with us, because it’s fun to talk to these folks, and they know they’re doing something extremely worthwhile.”