B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie has a broad mandate to monitor and review systemic issues affecting seniors, raise awareness about resources available to them, and make recommendations to government. Her mandate covers the areas of health care, personal care, housing, transportation and income support. She is Canada’s first seniors advocate.
B.C. Office of the Seniors Advocate Discusses Findings of Landmark Residential Care Survey
The Office of the Seniors Advocate is an independent office of the B.C. Ministry of Health. In 2016, the Office led work to implement a survey of residents in publicly-subsidized residential care in B.C.; this survey is the first of its kind in Canada. This in-person survey reached out to over 22,000 residential care clients in 292 publicly-funded facilities. Almost 10,000 residents completed the survey (43% response rate). A parallel survey mailed to a resident’s most frequent visitor yielded nearly 10,000 responses.
Arguably, the most important measurement of quality is the opinion of the person for whom we build, staff, and run the care home. For most residents, the care home is their last home. This survey is critical to understanding how we can ensure residents are getting the best possible care and quality of life.
The survey instrument used was the interRAI Self-Reported Resident Quality of Life Survey for Long Term Care Facilities; questions developed and tested by the B.C. Patient-Centered Measurement Working Group were also included. Survey design was informed by a consultation group that included experts in survey design, front line staff, care providers, union representatives, health authority officials, and family members.
Responses were linked to clinical data from interRAI RAI-MDS assessments that are conducted quarterly in B.C.’s publicly-funded residential care facilities. This is the first time that survey data from residential care facilities has been linked to detailed clinical assessments on such a large scale. Data from this survey allows an unprecedented understanding of B.C.’s residential care scale at the system, facility, and individual level.
The Seniors Advocate has made a number of recommendations based on survey findings, particularly around ensuring adequate staffing levels are attained for all facilities. The B.C. Ministry of Health has committed to expediting increased funding for direct care hours in all residential care facilities. Findings from the residential care survey speak to the need for greater staffing to ensure residents can consistently get the help they need, have fulfilling activities in the evenings and weekends, and are able to fulfill the basic necessities of life with the dignity previously afforded to them in the community.