Every Voice Counts: B.C. Office of the Seniors Advocate Discusses Findings of Landmark Residential Care Survey

Isobel Mackenzie
B.C. Office of the Seniors Advocate, Victoria, BC, Canada

The Office of the Seniors Advocate is an independent office of the B.C. Ministry of Health. The Office monitors and analyzes seniors' services and issues in B.C., and makes recommendations to government and service providers to address systemic issues. Isobel Mackenzie, appointed in 2014, is Canada's first Seniors Advocate. In 2016, the Office partnered with Providence Health Care to conduct a first-of-its-kind survey of residential care clients.

This in-person survey, through the efforts of over 800 volunteers over a nine month period, reached out to 20,000 residential care clients across 287 publicly-funded facilities. Survey collection wraps up in April 2017, with high-level provincial and health authority-level results being released by the Office in June 2017. Detailed facility-level results will follow in late August. Although a majority of clients have cognitive impairments, survey personnel made multiple attempts to complete the survey with each client, resulting in a 40% response rate. A parallel survey mailed to a client's most frequent visitor has yielded nearly 6,000 responses.

Survey implementation and question design were informed by a consultation group comprising experts in gerontology and survey design, along with Ministry and health authority staff. Results will be analyzed in conjunction with clinical data from InterRAI assessments from B.C.'s publicly-funded residential care facilities. Survey results will dovetail with the Office's annual Residential Care Quick Facts Directory to provide the public and policy makers with never-before-seen data and findings. The Advocate will use the survey results as a roadmap to make recommendations for improvements in care quality.