Every Voice Counts – Thank You to Our Volunteer Surveyors!

B.C.’s Seniors Advocate releases results of 2022-2023 province-wide long-term care survey.

Long-term care residents survey reveals gaps in service, high marks for skill, compassion of staff

BURNABY – BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie has released results from the second provincewide survey of thousands of long-term care residents and their family members.

“In the past six years, funding for long-term care in B.C. has increased more than 45% and staffing has increased more than 10%, but despite these significant investments, we have not seen the amount of progress we hoped for in elevating the quality of life for people who call long-term care home,” stated Mackenzie. “To what degree the pandemic hindered our progress is difficult to quantify but it is reasonable to assume it had an impact.”

The survey covered 297 publicly subsidized care facilities in B.C. and received responses from over 10,000 residents and almost 8,000 family members and close friends. Just over 500 British Columbians volunteered to assist residents to complete the survey. The questions and design parallel the 2016/17 survey allowing reliable comparison to previous results.

Increasing care hours is one of the report’s recommendations. “While B.C. was at one time a leader in the amount of direct care hours residents received with 3.36 hours of care per person per day, we must recognize that changes in room configuration, resident population and expectations have expanded the care needed. National standards now recommend 4.1 hours of care per person per day as the minimum. While this 22% increase may seem daunting, we have achieved as much in the past and we can do so again,” stated Mackenzie.

The survey results show there has been little improvement in areas such as frequency of bathing, help at mealtimes, meaningful activities, engagement with staff and other residents and the overall ratings of quality remain relatively unchanged. Despite these shortcomings, residents continue to give high marks to long-term care home staff for their skill, compassion and ability to treat residents with respect.

The report also recommends improving the home support system in B.C. to allow more seniors to delay their move to long term care. “We have 40% of residents who do not want to live in their care home and assessment data tell us that some of these people could continue to live at home with supports. We must ensure all options are exhausted before a person is required to move into long-term care – this will require changes to our home support program including the removal of financial barriers,” continued Mackenzie.

“While this report has not provided us with evidence of the improvements we had hoped to see, it is important to recognize long-term care is working well for some people and the goal is to raise the quality of life for all residents. The support for seniors remains strong and we need to look no further than the hundreds of British Columbians who stepped up to volunteer almost 20,000 hours of their time. This alone gives me hope for the future,” concluded Mackenzie.

Highlights from the survey include:
• 54% rated the overall quality of the care and services received in the home as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’

• Almost 80% of residents felt they could express their opinions ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’

• 81% of residents decide how to spend their time

• 85% of residents felt their privacy was respected during care ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’.

• 95% of residents reported they have never been treated unfairly by staff due to their race or cultural background, and 97% reported they have never been treated unfairly due to their sexual orientation.

• 88% of residents feel safe when they are alone ‘almost’ or ‘most of the time’.

• 87% of residents reported they trust staff to take good care of them and staff treat them like a whole person ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’.

• 48% of residents feel their care home ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ feels like home.

• 51% of residents said staff only ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ make time for a friendly conversation or ask how to meet their needs.

•50% of residents reported they ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ had the same care aide most weekdays.

•33% of residents report that they only ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ get help to eat when needed.

•One-third of residents only ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ get to decide when to get up.

•29% of residents only ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ get help right away if needed although 79%
report they could get the services they need ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’.

•Almost two-thirds of residents only ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ find enjoyable things to do on evenings and weekends, or find opportunities to explore new skills or interests.

The report includes the following 8 recommendations:

1.   Increase staffing levels in all care facilities to the nationally recommended 4.1 hours of direct care
per resident per day.

2.   Increase flexibility of scheduling.

3.    Increase social connections for residents by creating more meaningful activities to improve resident engagement.

4.    Improve food and mealtime experience to meet residents’ preferences, including nutritional and
culturally-specific dietary needs.

5.    Implement compulsory professional education for all care home staff in cultural safety and emotional health and well-being of residents.

6.   Allow all residents (or substitute decision maker, if appropriate) to name their “essential visitor”.

7.   Work closely with the Independent Long-Term Care Councils Association of BC to raise awareness
and increase the function of resident and family councils at all long-term care facilities in B.C..

8.   Improve community-based services, in particular home support, to ensure seniors are not required to seek long-term care unless their care needs cannot be met in the community.

Learn More:
‘Every Voice Counts-Long-Term Care Resident and Visitor Survey Results–2023’ News Report
Read Full Report (Provincial Results)  
View Every Voice Counts Public Release PowerPoint Presentation
View video about our volunteers

Survey Results
Provincial Survey Results
Health Authority Survey Results
Find Facility Results through our LTC/AL Quick Facts Directory – coming soon!

Reflecting Forward

It has been said that, “We do not learn from experience; we learn from reflecting on experience.” Even as we stride ahead towards our goal of approaching every resident in long-term care in BC, we continue to reflect on the mosaic of experiences that we are accumulating – experiences of residents, surveyors, project team members, and care home staff.

Robert W., a volunteer surveyor in Vancouver Coastal region, has taken the time to reflect on his experiences with residents… and to share those reflections:

“As an aging senior myself, I have a keen interest in issues related to aging adults. Over these past several weeks I have enjoyed my many encounters with the residents. I look forward each day to meeting and conversing with each unique and interesting person. I always come away from our encounters having learned something about their experiences, both before coming into care as well as in their current circumstances.

When I first joined the project, I was surprised to learn what it is like to work in today’s digital world where the trainers and coordinators are scattered throughout the province. There were also adjustments as I became acclimatized to the environment of the care home itself. Once I became more comfortable, I found all the staff were most welcoming and very helpful in making connections with the residents. I received great feedback from [residents] about the value of the project – and even how people appreciated the opportunity to talk with someone new.

From my experiences I would say to fellow and future volunteers that the sooner you establish relationships with the people who are directly involved with the residents, the smoother your path to the residents will be. Creating mutual trust facilitates connections.

The most important thing to remember about being with the residents is the need to listen with patience. This is a fundamental quality in any encounter with a resident.

My hope for this project is that all the concerns that were expressed by residents in our surveys will result in appropriate policy changes that will impact those both in existing residences and in the planning and realization of future programs for seniors in care.”

In reflecting on the incredible value of truly listening to each resident’s experience, we are inspired to forge ahead! Since September 2022, OSA Surveyors have been engaging with residents in 279 out of 297 care homes in BC. We look forward to continuing to listen to the experiences of residents in the remaining care homes from which we can all reflect and learn.

B.C. Seniors’ Week 2023: Giving a Voice to the Vulnerable

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honours”
~ Tia Walker

Since 1986, Seniors Week has been recognized each June to celebrate the contributions seniors make to enhance the quality of life in British Columbia.  Central to BC Seniors Week is recognizing seniors’ contribution to society and ensuring their voices are heard.

Over the past 9 months, volunteer OSA Surveyors, many who are seniors themselves have collectively approached nearly 23,000 residents living in long-term care, to listen to residents’ experiences and to amplify their voices regarding their experience of living at the care home. We thank our surveyors for their effort, dedication, and for giving their time so freely to connect with seniors across the province.

We also want to recognize the residents of the nearly 300 care homes and how those we  are engaging with have impacted us: the personal impact they have on each of the volunteer surveyors, as well as the collective impact they have had on shaping our province’s past and future. It is an absolute privilege to be able to serve them and to listen to their experiences of living at the care home.

The stories and lessons that have been heard by the volunteer surveyors will be remembered and cherished for years to come… as echoed in the comments below from several surveyors.

“I am grateful for this opportunity for a peek inside the world of Long-Term Care Homes… It has given me an insight into the varied needs of people… It is also teaching me the resilience of people in adapting to environments that are, for the most part, far removed from what they would have been accustomed to at “home”… Thank you for giving me the chance to meet and visit with so many lovely people.”
~ Karen

“If our actions can make life better for the residents by making their opinions known and changes [are] made because of that, then I will feel that I have helped bring some comfort to those in the long-term care homes.”
~ Samm

“Thank you for this amazing opportunity to be an advocate surveyor for long-term care residents in my community. It is both humbling and exhilarating, all at the same time.”
~ Cheryl

“This experience has been very rewarding for me. So many of the people I’ve interviewed have provided a lot of inspiration through their attitudes and positive outlook, in spite of adverse experiences and physical impediments. It sure “upped” my positive view of how us humans can live our lives!!”
~ Bert

The OSA Long-Term Care Project Team is celebrating:
– Nearly 500 volunteers recruited
– Over 13,000 volunteer hours logged
– 40 volunteers who have exceeded 60  hours of surveying!

As we reflect and appreciate both senior OSA Surveyors and senior residents, we are humbled by the opportunity to work with, listen to and learn from all of BC’s seniors. On behalf of our entire project team…

Thank you!

Volunteering Weaves us Together

Strengthening the fabric of our community by sharing our time, talent, and energy to support one another.

This is the theme of National Volunteer Week!  Its a time to celebrate and thank our over 450 volunteers, without whom would not be able to listen and engage with the nearly 30,000 residents living in publicly funded long-term care in our province.

We greatly admire our Volunteer Surveyors’ kindness, dedication, altruism, patience, energy, and positivity. Each Surveyor has made, and continues to make, a significant difference in the lives of residents living in long-term care. This survey would not be possible without our Surveyors!

  • – Over 450 volunteers have trained to become structured interviewers across the province!!

  • – Over 9,200 total hours logged by our volunteers across the province!

“The root of happiness is altruism – the wish to be of service to others.”
~ Dalai Lama

Volunteering  weaves us together by sharing time, talent and energy to support one another. We, the OSA LTC Project Team are so proud and honoured to work with each and all.   Thank you!!

Comox Valley volunteers needed to conduct seniors’ long-term care survey

Friendly faces and listening ears are wanted in the Comox Valley to spend time with and record the experiences of seniors living in long-term care.

The Office of the Seniors Advocate, with help from volunteers across the province, is in the process of surveying all residents in publicly subsidized long-term care homes in B.C. In the Comox Valley, that work is already ongoing at Glacier View Lodge, and surveyors will begin the process at Cumberland Lodge on April 12.

Volunteers are needed for both locations.

Originally appearing here, on April 9, 2023.

Friendly faces needed to meet with Salmon Arm seniors for provincial survey

Volunteers in process of conducting survey at publicly subsidized long-term care homes

Friendly faces and listening ears are wanted in Salmon Arm to spend time with and record the experiences of seniors living in long-term care.

The Office of the Seniors Advocate, with help from volunteers across the province, is in the process of surveying all residents in publicly subsidized long-term care homes in B.C. In Salmon Arm, that work has already been done with residents of Bastion Place. There are three other facilities to be surveyed soon, Hillside Village, Piccadilly Seniors Community and Mount Ida Mews.

“More volunteers are needed throughout April and May to ensure that each one of these seniors has the opportunity to share their perspective with a friendly face and listening ear,” said Emily Jurek, regional engagement lead with the Ministry of Health.

Jurek said volunteers go into the care homes, sit down with seniors and ask them about their experiences living in care.

Surveys are being conducted in 294 publicly subsidized long-term care homes across the province. Family and visitors of each resident in care will be invited to complete a related online survey, asking them to share their perceptions of their loved one’s care and their own experience visiting care homes.

According to the Office of the Seniors Advocate, information collected from the resident interviews and family/frequent visitor surveys “will be an important source of information for the Seniors Advocate to identify system-wide issues.”

Information about joining the survey team is available by calling the Office of the Seniors Advocate at 1-877-952-3181 or 2-1-1, or by visiting surveybcseniors.org.

Written by LACHLAN LABERE, originally appearing here on March 14, 2023.

Volunteers needed to survey Burnaby long-term care home residents

Give the gift of time to B.C. seniors and make every voice count.

Want to support seniors and help give them a voice?

An independent agency of B.C. government is looking for you. The B.C. Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) is calling on volunteers across the province to help in its survey of B.C. seniors in long-term care homes about the quality of their lives.

Between now and late spring, the initiative, Every Voice Counts, will see trained volunteers survey British Columbia (including Burnaby) long-term care home residents and their loved ones about the residents’ experiences in the homes, and will seek collective input on making improvements both provincially and locally.

According to the Survey BC Seniors website, they aim to reach out to 29,284 residents living in 294 publicly funded care homes
in B.C. and their families.

The same survey, which was conducted for the first time pre-pandemic in 2016/17, noted areas of improvement in care homes. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said it is even more important to assess what life is like for seniors in long-term care facilities and how it can be made better.

Survey BC Seniors encourages more volunteer surveyors to join the team — especially in Burnaby, where seniors from eight facilities are waiting to be heard and share their voice and concerns.

Anyone interested in volunteering and making a difference in seniors’ lives can apply on the website. All necessary training is provided.

Volunteers are encouraged to apply within the next couple of weeks — however, there is no closing date on applications.

Originally appears here by Abhinaya Natesh on March 7, 2023.

Volunteers needed to survey residents Langley long-terms care home

Initiative involves visiting seniors and learning about their experiences

Survey BC Seniors is calling on volunteers in Langley to support a project aimed at improving the quality of life of the province’s 29,000 plus long-term care residents. The initiative will see trained volunteers survey residents of Langley and Aldergrove care homes, asking them about their experiences and seeking their input on how to make improvements both locally and provincially.

The BC Office of Patient-Centred Measurement is leading the survey, and volunteers surveyors are needed, who will listen and interview seniors living in long-term care. According to Judy Zhu, regional engagement lead at the British Columbia Ministry of Health, volunteers will be asked to commit around 40 hours of their time.

“It’s quite an extensive survey. People really enjoy the experience, residents love it because someone is coming to visit who isn’t family or staff,” said Zhu.

She further shared that one of the survey’s main guiding principles is ‘inclusion.’

The survey is translated into several prominent languages unique to the resident demographic in the Fraser Valley region, including Punjabi, Farsi, Cantonese, Mandarin, German, Italian, and Korean.

However, she also pointed out at some of the unique challenges in the Fraser Valley region, where Langley is located.

“The area has several large care homes, and Langley’s four care homes still need approximately 537 residents to be surveyed. Additionally, the Fraser Valley has a diverse population, with residents speaking languages. As a result, the survey has been translated into these languages to ensure inclusivity.”

Jerry Gosling, a volunteer from Langley, has been on the council of advisors for the BC Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, for the past five years. He is also one of the survey volunteers.

“I wanted to be involved with patients in long-term care homes and see what happens on a daily basis and also witness the challenges they face every day and night. I have enjoyed my time I have spent with them, and the learning curve is beyond measure.”

Janice Germaine, another volunteer from Langley, said, “becoming a volunteer surveyor appealed to me on several levels. As a retired healthcare professional, I could see how valuable this survey information will be. We all want high quality healthcare at any age. To really understand and have an impact, we must talk to those who are receiving that care.”

Germaine said the connection with individuals is important.

“I find that residents are happy to share feedback about where they live. Sometimes if a resident is having a bad day or they can’t answer specific questions, I just put my pen down and spend some time talking with them. I think that is rewarding for both of us.”

Survey BC Seniors is hopes that volunteers will enjoy the experience, meet new people, and come away with a sense of fulfillment. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can sign up through https://surveybcseniors.org/volunteer/. The project welcomes anyone interested in volunteering and making a difference in seniors’ lives.

The four long-term care facilities in Langley part of the survey are:

– Langley Lodge

– Extended Care Unit at the Langley Memorial Hospital

– Chartwell Langley Gardens Retirement Residence

– Fort Langley Seniors Community

The one long-term care facility in Aldergrove.

– Jackman Manor

Author is Tanmay Ahuluwalia

Published on February 24, 2023. It originally appeared here.

Call for volunteers to help survey residents in long-term care homes

The Office of the Seniors Advocate is launching the second province-wide survey of the experiences of residents living in all 294 publicly-subsidized long-term care homes in B.C. and is calling on all interested British Columbians to join the survey team.

“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,” said B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie. “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 and join the survey team. 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.”

This project is currently underway at several care homes in PG. Surveys are complete at Gateway Lodge and Rainbow Lodge, and are ongoing in Jubilee Lodge, Parkside Care, and Simon Fraser Lodge.

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. The surveyors are supported by health care professionals from the Ministry of Health, health authorities and individual care homes. Volunteers will be screened for suitability and participate in training sessions to prepare them for conducting surveys with a minimum of 10 care home residents during the survey period.

Information about joining the survey team is available at www.surveybcseniors.org or by calling the Office of the Seniors Advocate toll free at 1-877-952-3181 or 2-1-1.

The long-term care quality of life survey examines topics such as food, safety, comfort, respect and responsiveness of staff, personal relationships, medications and activities. Residents will be interviewed in person and their family members will be invited to participate by phone, online or via a written survey. The survey will be conducted at care homes across the province between June 2022 and February 2023. A final report is planned for spring 2023.

The 2017 final report ‘Every Voice Counts: Provincial Residential Care Survey Results’ made recommendations for system improvements including:

– increasing care hours and ensuring staffing levels are enforced and monitored by heath authorities;
– increasing flexibility of how and when care and services are delivered;
– examining opportunities to improve the mealtime experience;
– advising health authorities to administer a similar quality of care survey to care home residents and family members in 2019/20 and publish the results;
– increasing training focused on the emotional needs of residents;
– foster greater engagement with family members particularly in regard to family councils and visitor handwashing;
– better physician care and increasing the role of nurse practitioners to improve care;
– increasing the range of activities, particularly in the evenings and weekends; and
undertaking the survey again in five years.

The Office of the Seniors Advocate is an independent office of the provincial government with a mandate of monitoring seniors’ services and reporting on systemic issues affecting seniors. The office also provides information and referral to seniors and their caregivers by calling toll free 1 877 952-3181, BC211, via email at info@seniorsadvocate.ca, Canada Post and the OSA web site https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/.

Original article appears in the PG Daily News on Feb 1, 2023.