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Volunteers needed to help survey 29K senior residents of B.C. care homes on quality of life

Giving Vancouver seniors a voice.
N. Gullason and M. Schlotterbeck at volunteering at Mount St. Mary.

In 2017, a provincial survey was conducted on the quality of life of B.C. residents at publicly funded long-term care homes. The goal was to make improvements for them, both locally and provincially based on their feedback.

Last year it was determined that in the wake of the COVID pandemic a reassessment of what life is like for seniors in long-term care facilities was needed.

There are approximately 29,000 residents living in 300 public care homes and British Columbia’s Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, commissioned the B.C. Office of Patient-Centred Measurement (OPCM) to implement another province-wide survey to give a voice to senior citizens.

“Now, more than ever, it is important to go directly to the people who live in long-term care to seek their opinions of how well B.C.’s long-term care system is meeting their needs,” says Mackenzie in a press release.

The survey has been underway since last fall but more volunteers are needed to be a "listening ear" for vulnerable residents in local care homes.

Advocates are calling on people to gift their time to seniors in their communities that will inform the Office of the Seniors Advocate’s 2022-2023 Long Term Care Survey.

Topics include seniors' experience and satisfaction with the quality of care and services they receive such as food, safety, homelike environment, the respectfulness and responsiveness of staff, communication and personal relationships, activities, the impact of the pandemic on visitation and cultural safety.

Surveyors will get to visit the residents in person throughout the Lower Mainland this spring, see what it's like in long-term care, and conduct a structured interview with them.

Surveyors will also receive training on how to respectfully and successfully engage with senior residents and volunteers from diverse backgrounds are encouraged.

For instance, Claire, a Cantonese- and English-speaking Surveyor shares that after taking part in surveying seniors who only speak Cantonese and no English she “started to realize the power of one’s own language and culture to connect people deeply.”

“When I go into the room of a Cantonese-speaking resident, I would immediately notice the box of traditional egg rolls (蛋卷), grandkids’ drawings with words written in Chinese or things like that. Very often, the resident and I would start our conversation from a familiar place.”

She says there are older residents who can’t speak much English and feel isolated. “Simply being able to talk to someone who is willing to listen energizes them…there are residents who have been living and working in Canada for decades and would still prefer to share their views, struggles and wisdom in a language they feel connected to.”

If a resident does not wish to or is unable to continue with the interview, the Surveyor will not push the resident to complete the survey. Over the course of the 2017 survey, 800 trained volunteers provided 25,000 hours of their time and captured the voices of almost 10,000 residents across the province.

Janice Germaine, a returned healthcare professional saw the value of surveying because “we all want high-quality healthcare at any age. To really understand and have impact, we must talk to those who are receiving that care.”

She encourages anyone interested in the opportunity to apply. Which you can do here.

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