The targeted completion date for a comprehensive survey of seniors living in residential care facilities across B.C. has been extended by several months by the Office of the Seniors Advocate. But the extension is not a reflection of any failure within the project, but rather is an indicator of its overwhelming success.
The project, which began in the summer of 2016 with the aim of conducting face to face interviews with as many of the 27,000 seniors living in 303 facilities in the province, is the first of its kind in Canada and, upon completion, will provide much needed information on the state of residential care facilities in B.C.
Judy Brown, regional engagement lead for the project, said the number of seniors in care willing to be interviewed has come as a welcome surprise, but has meant that the original completion date of Dec. 1 had to be extended.
“It’s quite a long interview, touching on every aspect of the care they are receiving and a number of quality of life issues. Each interview will take between 45 minutes and two hours and they are all being conducted by a wonderful group of volunteers,” said Brown. “It’s very important information that will improve the life of thousands of our senior citizens and we’re going to make certain that everyone who wants to be a part of the interviews has their chance.”
According to Brown, more than 80 per cent of the interviews have been completed across the province, and the final engagements will be taking place in eight Victoria care homes (plus one in Sooke).
But to accomplish that task, more volunteers are needed.
“We have hundreds of interviews left to do but we are in desperate need of volunteers to help complete this important work,” said Tina Biello, regional engagement lead for Vancouver Island.
She said the organization needs about 30 new volunteers if the project is to be completed. She was quick to point out how the volunteers in other parts of the province have been overwhelmingly positive about the experience.
“This is very rewarding work,” said Biello. “We’re giving the residents of the care homes a voice in a way that’s never been done before. Some of these people receive very few visits and giving them the chance to talk about their surroundings and treatment is vitally important. It shows them that they aren’t forgotten and that they matter.”
The information gathered from the interviews, in conjunction with mail-in surveys of frequent visitors to the homes, will be complied and will be used by care homes that, according to Brown, are interested in the viewpoints of residents and want to improve services wherever they can.
Those wishing to volunteer or want more information, visit surveyseniors.org.