BC’s Seniors Advocate is looking for volunteers to help them carry out a survey of 27,000 seniors living in care facilities across the province.

“We need to find out really what’s going on from the perspective of the people that are living there and their family members,” says Isobel Mackenzie. “We need to understand how the majority of people are feeling about their experience, where things are working well, where they’re not working well.”

She says it’s the first time the province has conducted a face-to-face survey of its seniors.

In the past few months, a group of 250 volunteers have been visiting seniors in care facilities to conduct the survey. Mackenzie says they kept the group small while ironing out kinks in the process. Now they’re ready to ramp up and are seeking a further 300-350 people to help.

Volunteers will undergo a day of training and are asked for a total commitment of approximately 30 hours.

“We are asking people to commit to interviewing 10 seniors because there’s an investment in the training. The interviews can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half depending on how engaged the person is and the stories that the senior tells.”

The survey aims to encompass 303 care facilities across BC and will continue for another four months. In addition to interviews with seniors, a mail-out survey will be sent to each resident’s most frequent visitor. This is usually a family member and Mackenzie says that perspective is important as well.

“We’re able to hear another voice about [seniors’] experiences. It’s not actually their experience – it’s their family member’s view of their experience. I think a lot of family members are going to be empowered to know that this is a mechanism for their voice to be heard.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, you can find more information on the BC Seniors Advocate website.