BC's Seniors Advocate releases most extensive survey ever done on quality of life in care

BC's Seniors Advocate has released results of the most extensive survey ever done on the quality of life for residents living in publicly subsidized residential care homes.
Isobel Mackenzie says the survey heard from some of our most frail and vulnerable seniors for the first time. She says it shows BC needs to be doing better, and in some cases, much better in ensuring the needs of residents are met.

The survey asked about activities and care, including food quality, staff responsiveness,  physician care and social connectedness. On the positive side 50% rate the overall quality of care as good to excellent; 80% indicate they get the services they need and 88% feel safe; 86% of residents say staff treat them with respect; and 88% of family members or most frequent visitors report  staff addresses their concerns always or most of the time.

But many also report areas where improvements are needed. Including: 62% say they don't get to bathe or shower as often as they want; 1 in 4 say they sometimes, rarely or never get help to the toilet when needed; More than one third report they aren't consistently getting the help they need at mealtimes; 49% say they sometimes, rarely or never have the same care aide on most weekdays; Only 57% of residents report that the care facility regularly feels like home.

Loneliness is also an issue. Less than half (46%) say staff regularly make time for friendly conversation; 4 out of 10 residents living in residential care do not want to be there; and only 57% of residents report that the care facility regularly feels like home.

The survey heard from 10-thousand residents and 10-thousand family members.  McKenzie says the message is that seniors in care require more staff, more freedom and more conversation.

The Advocate makes eight 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 is delivered, increasing training focused on the emotional needs of residents, expanding the role of nurse practitioners in residential care facilities and increasing the range of activities provided in residential care facilities, particularly in the evenings and weekends. The Advocate also recommends ongoing use of this survey tool to ensure progress is monitored.

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