British Columbia (BC) recently undertook Canada’s most exhaustive survey of seniors living in long-term care (LTC) facilities, highlighting the province’s commitment to quality of care for this vulnerable sector of the population.
Some 10,000 residents and 10,000 family members were surveyed by the province’s Office of the Seniors Advocate between June 2016 and May 2017. It was the first time seniors have been directly asked their opinions on what was working well and where services could be improved, and about their experiences relating to a host of issues including daily activities and care, food quality, social connections, staff responsiveness and quality of care.
The survey results are included in the 2018 British Columbia Residential Care Facilities Quick Facts Directory, which provides information for 293 publicly subsidized facilities in BC. First published in 2016, the directory is updated on an annual basis.
The main feedback from the survey was that seniors crave more social interaction both with staff and with each other, more flexibility in their day- to-day routines and more staff assistance in managing their daily needs. The advocate makes eight recommendations in the report, including calling for additional staff to provide residents a better quality of life in what is probably their final home.
The advocate also recommends that staffing levels be enforced and monitored by heath authorities, that additional training be provided that focuses on residents’ emotional needs and that there be greater flexibility in how and when care is delivered. In addition, the advocate calls for the range of activities and the role of nurse practitioners to be expanded.
The directory serves as a useful resource for seniors and their caregivers as they asses which facility will best serve their needs. It focuses on several key features, such as licensing inspection status, licensing complaints, food services, room configuration and direct care hours. More importantly, it also looks at standard quality of care indicators: access to physical, occupational and recreational therapies, level of social engagement, use of daily physical restraints, use of antipsychotic and antidepressant medications (with and without a formal diagnosis) and the number of reportable incidents and serious adverse events.
Those statistics also provide invaluable systemic data on trends in long-term care and quality of life for seniors residing both in contracted facilities and in ones owned and operated by health authorities.
There is mounting pressure on Canada’s residential care sector, with a rising number of older seniors with increasingly complex care needs who cannot remain in their homes.
The Canadian Medical Association is calling for increased governmental investment in new infrastructure and upgrades to existing facilities to meet this growing demand for residential care, comply with higher regulatory requirements and provide the quality of care residents deserve.