Volunteers needed to survey Campbell River residents living in care

The Office of the Seniors Advocate wants to know what life is like living in care and they need more volunteers to get the job done

A common thread already emerging from the surveys being conducted by volunteers for the Office of the Seniors Advocate is how thrilled the residents are that someone took a significant amount of time to sit down and listen to them.

The Office of the Seniors Advocate wants to know what life is like living in care homes across the province from the people who are living there, and they need more volunteers to get the job done.

“In every community we are relying on volunteers who are going in and interviewing residents – they are not always seniors – about their experience in care and listening to them and hearing what they have to say about what their life is like in care,” said Tina Biello, regional engagement lead for the Island.

So far, the volunteers in Campbell River have interviewed the residents at one site, but there are still two more sites that need to be done.

Biello estimates she will need 10-20 more volunteers.

Volunteers are required to commit to 30 hours of interviewing as well as a training day.

“We ask for a minimum commitment of 30 hours, just because there is so much to do before they get to a site,” Biello said. “We want to make sure it is worth their while.”

So far the program has seen all sorts of volunteers, but Biello said that the majority are retired health care workers.

“I’m finding a lot of people are interested in what life is like for seniors in care,” she said. Whether it be because they have had an experience with a family member or they are worried that this could be them in 10-20 years.

“And also just people who are interested in sitting and talking and listening to seniors, because it is a lot of talking and asking them questions and all that kind of thing,” she added.

Those who want to volunteer are interviewed and if they are deemed suitable are required to submit a criminal record check, get a flu shot and participate in the training day.

Biello said the training day is very thorough and the volunteers learn everything they could possibly need to know about privacy and confidentiality as well as how to go about conducting the interviews and approaching the residents.

They will be asking residents a range of questions from the quality of food, to how they view care staff, as well as questions related to privacy, comfort and access to activities, with the goal of gauging resident satisfaction and providing a roadmap for improvements to quality of care.

In total, 27,00 residents living in 303 facilities will be interviewed.

Feedback from seniors has been diverse, however, a common emerging theme is the impact of having their voices heard.

“A resident came to me and explained to me how a person had come to her and asked her questions for a long time,” said Norma Sorensen, manager at a care home in Victoria, in a press release. “The resident recounted how they just sat together and the person listened to her and she was just thrilled. As a manager I felt sad that being listened to was such a novelty for the resident.”

The survey itself was designed by a consultative process involving care facilities, health authorities, family members, union representatives, community groups and academic experts from across the country.

At the end of the project, the results of the survey will be used to improve the quality of care and services provided to residents and their families.

To volunteer, or to find more information, contact the Office of the Seniors Advocate.