Seniors receiving home support would like more services, better-trained workers, according to advocate’s survery

'The collective voice of almost 10,000 seniors...on how they rate the quality and effectiveness of our provincial home support program'

The Office of the Seniors Advocate says seniors in home support may be satisfied with the care and support services they receive, but they are disappointed in both the number of those services and the skills held by those who provide them.

Isobel Mackenzie’s office conducted a survey in the fall of 2015 and issued its report on the findings recently.

“We have heard the collective voice of almost 10,000 seniors and their family members on how they rate the quality and effectiveness of our provincial home support program,” said Mackenzie, adding that while there was some good news in the results, there were also some “clear messages about where there are opportunities for improvements.”

Overall, clients who completed the survey are satisfied with the quality of the home support services they receive (62 per cent). However, many respondents want more services to be available to them, such as housekeeping (28 per cent) and meal preparation (12 per cent). Additional highlights of the findings include that while there is an overwhelming recognition that home support staff are caring and respectful (92 per cent), there were also concerns around the number of different workers – 20 per cent of clients say they get too many regular workers – as well as the lack of skills and training of some home support workers.  For example, only 47 per cent of respondents think their workers have all necessary skills to provide good care. The survey also found some troubling statistics about the use of medication among those in home care.

While the findings showed that 80 per cent of seniors accessing home support care assistance know exactly how many medications they are taking, only 59 per cent knew why they were taking them and only 17 per cent said they knew their side effects.

“Clearly,” Mackenzie says, “all of us involved in the care of seniors, from physicians and pharmacists to nurses and family members, need to be more diligent in communicating possible side effects of medications. This is important at any age, but particularly crucial for seniors, because, in some cases, we might think there is a cognitive impairment or permanent condition when, in fact, what we are seeing is a side effect from one of the many medications some seniors are prescribed.”

The survey was conducted amongst 5,336 clients and 40,40 family members, so the margin of error on the study is +/- 1 per cent after applying a finite population correction, the office says.

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