Volunteers needed in Invermere to interview seniors 

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Becoming a senior is referred to as being in the ‘golden years’. The Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) is looking for volunteers to survey seniors in Invermere to see if they are in fact having a golden experience, with the 2022-2023 Long-Term Care Resident and Family Experience Survey. 

Volunteers will visit the more than 29,000 residents in publicly funded long term care homes across B.C.  and conduct a structured interview with them about their quality of life. 

“This project is sponsored by the BC Office of the Seniors Advocate,” said Emily Jurek, regional engagement lead, Office of Patient-Centered Measurement (OPCM). “When Isobel Mackenzie became B.C.’s first Seniors’ Advocate in 2014, one of her visions was to get the perspective of every resident in long-term care in the province on the quality of care they were receiving. That was done in 2016 and 2017 and now it is being done again, post-pandemic.”

The intent is to make improvements for them, both locally and provincially. Between Columbia Garden Village and Columbia House at the Invermere District Hospital the two long term care facilities in Invermere, about 70 residents will need to be surveyed. Those interested should sign up fast as surveying is set to begin the first week of February, and there is a screening and training process that takes one to two weeks.  Any one can apply by calling (778) 675-8873, by visiting  www.surveybcseniors.org/volunteer or emailing Emily direct at ejurek@providencehealth.bc.ca.

“We would love to have a team of three to five volunteers who can go in a couple of times a week while surveys are being conducted in Invermere,” said Jurek. “Note that volunteers must be at arm’s length from the care home; individuals who have worked, volunteered, had a loved one, or have been a regular visitor in a specific facility, will not be able to do interviews in that facility. We will also be seeking the perspective of the family members or frequent visitors of those in long term care. They will receive a survey via email or mail, and we encourage them to take the opportunity to share their experience of their loved one’s care.”

Interested and approved volunteers will undergo online training, and then will conduct in-person interviews with residents in long term care. All the questions and materials will be provided, so the volunteers will just sit down with the resident, ask them the questions, and record their responses. They will ask their opinions about things and listen to their stories. The goal is to have all surveys done by the end of March. The time commitment is about 40 hours over the next two months.

“We hope that volunteers will come away with some treasured experiences of moments of fun, laughter, sadness, and connection that they were able to share with local residents,” said Jurek. 

“Volunteers can take this as an opportunity to see what life is like inside long term care and to know they have been part of improving the standard of care in our province. We hope that each senior will feel valued and know that their concerns have been heard. The results of this survey will be publicly released once all the surveys are complete across the province, and recommendations will be made by the Seniors’ Advocate for improvements in care. So, it has a dual purpose, both of making system-level changes and of engaging with individual seniors on a personal level.”