B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie. (Black Press files)

Bathing, meal times need work, residential care survey says

B.C. Seniors Advocate finds 80 per cent get services they need

The largest-ever study of residential care for seniors in Canadian history has given B.C.’s residential care mostly positive marks for the care of 27,000 frail elderly people in residential care.

“For the first time in this province, we have heard the collective voices of some of our most frail and vulnerable seniors across all of our care homes,” said Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.’s Seniors Advocate.

“What they are telling us is that while some are satisfied in some areas, overall, we need to be doing better, and in some cases, much better in ensuring the needs of residents are met,” Mackenzie said. “While most results are positive, 62 per cent of residents say they don’t get a bath or shower as often as they want, and one in four say they ‘sometimes, rarely or never get help in the toilet when needed’.”

The current provincial standard of one bath or shower a week is not sufficient for the majority of seniors in care homes, the survey found. A majority said the food in facilities is adequate, but many didn’t find the timing of meals to suit their needs.

“So apparently we need to rethink the rigidity of our mealtime schedules,” Mackenzie said.

She said many seniors are concerned that their memories aren’t going to be trusted, when they are asked when they last had a visit or a bath. The results showed seniors mostly understand their situation, and are able to rate their own health and physical limitations.

“We have heard from 20,000 British Columbians – 10,000 residents and 10,000 family members – and together their voices send three strong messages – more staff, more freedom and more conversation,” Mackenzie said.

“Residents need more help in some areas reflecting the fact there are not enough staff; many are lonely and want to be talked to and engaged and they want what we all do, more freedom to control all aspects of their day-to-day lives from when they get up in the morning to what time of day they eat their meals.”

Background and highlights of the survey are available at www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca


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