The Office of the Seniors Advocate is completing a survey of all 294 publicly-subsidized long-term care homes in B.C. and is calling on all interested northwest volunteers to join the survey team.
With an aspiration to reach every one of the 29,284 seniors in long-term care across the province, they are looking for volunteers in every community that has a long-term care home. For the northwest, this includes Masset, Daajing Giids, Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers, Houston, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.
“We know British Columbians care deeply about seniors, and through participating in this survey, you can help shape the future for people in residential care homes across the province,” Isobel Mackenzie, B.C. Seniors Advocate, said.
This is the second time the B.C. office has done a comprehensive survey on residents’ quality of life.
“In 2016-17, we conducted the most extensive study of residents’ quality of life in Canada. Over 800 caring and committed British Columbians volunteered to visit every care home in B.C. and gave voice to over 10,000 residents,” Mackenzie said. “Five years later, we once again call upon those who want to be part of improving the quality of life of seniors in long-term care to volunteer…”
Volunteers will ask residents questions covering their experiences and thoughts on a variety of topics, including food, the care they receive, security and visits with family and friends.
The Office of the Seniors Advocate commissioned the Office of Patient-Centred Measurement to conduct the survey.
Volunteering to be an interviewer is a rewarding way to participate in the community, Emily Jurek, the regional engagement lead for the northern region at the Office of Patient-Centred Measurement said.
“Getting to engage with people that are, honestly, lonely or bored and want someone to come in and ask their opinion and give them a voice in their experience and what their care is like.”
The experience was so impactful for one of the people who volunteered on the last survey that she ended up switching careers and becoming a long-term care recreation coordinator in her community, Jurek said.
Furthermore, for younger people, volunteering can be a way to gain experience and build their resume.
Members of the survey team will include British Columbians from a wide variety of backgrounds who engage with the seniors as equals in a conversation about what life is like in the place they live. Volunteers will be screened for suitability, supply criminal record check and references. They will participate in training sessions to prepare them for conducting surveys with a minimum of 10 care home residents during the survey period. Once the training is complete they have the opportunity to sign up for shifts online.
“It’s very convenient for our volunteers,” Jurek said.
“Everyone is familiar with how COVID has had so many impacts on all of us and I think a really special part of this survey is in long-term care, there’s been so many challenges through COVID because it’s a vulnerable population, and we want to protect them” the seniors advocate said. “They’re also lonely and so I think this is a really neat way that we can go in and talk to them and get their experience. They can have a visitor and somebody to ask their opinion and then we can see how COVID has affected those residents.”
To register, members of the public can visit to www.surveybcseniors.org.
Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View