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Many seniors in care want more bathing, better food, improved social life: survey

Last Updated Sep 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Seniors in care facilities are split on how happy they are living in care homes

Seniors advocate makes several recommendations to improve current conditions

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – BC’s seniors advocate says half the seniors living in provincial residential care facilities rate their quality of care as good or excellent, but almost as many say they don’t have any friends to do anything where they live.

Isobel Mackenzie released a landmark report today billed as the largest survey of its kind in Canada of elderly people living in BC’s residential care facilities.

She says the two-year project involved 22,000 people living in these facilities and makes eight recommendations after conducting thousands of interviews with seniors. Her eight recommendations include hiring more staff to ensure seniors are getting more one-on-one time, as well as improving the food served and making sure hygiene is improved, so visitors are washing their hands more and seniors are able to have more than one shower a week.

“There was at every turn an outpouring of goodwill that signaled a true desire to understand life in care facilities and the perspective of those who live there and there was a palpable yearning to make things better.”

Mackenzie says many say they want more flexibility in their lives, including less regulated meal times, improved activities and increased interactions with others. One-quarter of those asked say they rarely get help to the toilet when needed, and 40 per cent want to be in their own homes.

“I think that there is, weaving through this, an issue around not respecting the ability — particularly the cognitive ability — of seniors in our care facilities. And just because you’re a little slow to give an answer, doesn’t mean the answer doesn’t have as much impact.”

She feels regardless of the changes that are made immediately, there is still a lot of work to be done. “Half of these issues are about we don’t have enough staff in our care facilities and I think this is a good tool to tell us when we get that additional staff where we should be focusing our time, but that’s not all of it.”

The advocate says almost 90 per cent of those questioned feel safe and almost as many say they are treated with respect, but 60 per cent say they don’t get to bathe as often as they’d like.

The report concludes only 57 per cent of residents’ report that the care facility regularly feels like home.