A province wide survey looks to engage those living in B.C.’s long-term care facilities, with the provincial Ministry of Health now seeking volunteers to connect with residents at Merritt’s Gillis House and collect their experiences and perspectives. 

Survey BC Seniors is an initiative of the Ministry of Health, through its Office of Patient-Centred Measurement. An initial survey conducted in 2016 saw 43 percent of the province’s long-term care residents give responses, which informed the B.C. Seniors Advocate’s official recommendations to the provincial government on need policy and procedural changes needed in B.C.’s long-term care system. The survey came with a stipulation to resurvey in roughly five years, the process of which is now underway.

“The goal is to approach every resident in long-term care in the province and give them an opportunity to share their experiences about their quality of life,” said Emily Jurek, regional engagement lead with the Office of Patient-Centred Measurement.

“We’re asking questions about everything from food and meals, to activities, to visits with family and friends, and we’re wanting to give each one of those residents the opportunity to share their perspective, so that we can see how things are going.” 

A total of 29,284 residents currently live in 294 publicly-funded care homes, and the survey hopes to connect with each one of them, and provide their families with opportunities for feedback as well. In Merritt, Gillis House is the only publicly-funded long-term care facility. Volunteer surveyors will connect with Gillis House residents over the coming months to go over survey questions, and provide a social connection for survey respondents. 

Surveys are currently underway until May 2023, and the results will be distributed to each care facility for their internal use, along with informing the recommendations of B.C.’s Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, to the provincial government. It is expected that Mackenzie’s report will be released sometime in the fall of 2023. Jurek said it was important to resurvey, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic and its various effects on healthcare.

“Things have changed through the pandemic, and it’s important that we be able to assess how things are going as we are moving out of the pandemic, [know] how that has affected long-term care, and how we can approach those changes that may have happened,” added Jurek. 

Jurek noted that in the previous survey, staffing shortages were identified as one of the challenges facing long-term care facilities in the province. Following the survey, and the recommendation to government for increased staffing, a reassessment of the issue in 2020 found that direct care staffing hours per bed increased 8 percent across all 5 of the province’s health regions.

Along with the opportunity for those in the system to provide insight and feedback on their experiences in long-term care, Jurek said it provides volunteer surveyors the opportunity to connect with residents on a personal level while assisting them in accessing the survey. 

“We know that having a person there to sit down with the resident and work through the questions with them not only has the positive effect of just brightening their day, they get to have a visitor, but also really increases their ability to participate in the response rate that we’re getting,” noted Jurek. 

For more information on the survey, visit www.surveybcseniors.org. To volunteer as one of the surveyors engaging with nearly 100 residents at Merritt’s Gillis House over the coming months, visit the website, or contact Emily Jurek via email at [email protected] or phone at 778-675-8873.?