Parksville’s Joan Lemoine

Advocate looks for volunteers in Parksville Qualicum Beach to survey seniors

Training will be provided, so no experience is required to volunteer

B.C.’s Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, is looking for local volunteers to help survey all 27,000 seniors living in B.C.’s 303 residential care facilities.

“We’ve had great luck in other areas, we have lots of volunteers in Cowichan and Victoria, but there’s a real lull in Oceanside,” said Tina Biello, regional engagement lead with the Office of the Seniors Advocate.

She said they only have about eight volunteers in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area and have had others come in from Nanaimo to help the local effort.

With this area well known for having more than double the national average seniors population, Biello said they’d like as many as 30 people to help ensure they talk to everyone in the area’s many facilities.

Qualicum Beach leads the country with 47.2 per cent of the population 65 years of age or older, compared to the national average of 14 per cent, according to the latest (2011) census. Parksville was the second oldest at 37.1 per cent.

Biello said the 14 month process is reaching out to the seniors in residential care and their families to get first-hand feedback on the quality of their care and accommodations.

The results will give residents and their families a voice and “provide a road map for improvement of the quality of care and services.”

“Every resident in long-term residential care in B.C. will have the opportunity to share their voice and will be invited to participate,” according to a news release from the Office of the Seniors Advocate, which is an independent office of the provincial government.

Biello explained residential care is the highest level of care, different from assisted or independent living, which are often mixed in the same facilities.

Locally they need volunteers to spend time talking to people in Arrowsmith Lodge, Eagle Park, The Gardens at Qualicum Beach, Qualicum Manor, Stanford Place and Trillium Lodge.

The project is being managed by the B.C. Patient Centred Measurement Working Group and Providence Health Care “informed by” the Seniors Advocate’s Long-Term Care Consultation Group, with over 900 volunteers needed across the provence.

Residents and their visitors will be asked questions about many things, including: privacy, food, safety, activities and personal relationships, but their privacy will be protected.

Training will be provided, so no experience is required to volunteer, though Biello said they do need people to commit at least 30 hours over six to eight weeks and have access to e-mail and the Internet.

“We get a lot of anecdotal and individual communications but it’s very difficult to know whether the problems being represented are coming from a vocal minority or if they reflect a real problem area for a lot of people,” Isobel Mackenzie told the Victoria News.

“There are going to be an increasing number of these facilities and this is the first comprehensive look at what the experience of long-term care home residents is like.”

She said the results are not intended to be accusatory but constructive and they are getting great co-operation from the facilities.

For more information, or to volunteer visit surveybcseniors.org or call 1-877-952-3181.

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