Volunteers are needed in Salmon Arm to spend time with and record the experiences of seniors living in long-term care.
The Office of the Seniors Advocate is surveying all residents in publicly subsidized long-term care homes in British Columbia, and says it is in need of volunteers “to be the hands and feet on the ground to listen to the stories of vulnerable seniors.”
Emily Jurek, regional engagement lead with the Ministry of Health, said there are about 29,000 seniors in long-term care in B.C. and the goal is to survey them all.
“All of those interviews will be done by volunteers,” said Jurek. “You go into the care homes, sit down with the residents and ask them about their experiences. In Salmon Arm there’s… four facilities there and nearly 400 residents in those facilities. So a lot of local seniors that need someone to go in and ask for their experience.”
One volunteer from the first survey, launched in 2016, is Jennifer Sirges. She shares what a life-changing experience this was for her.
“Finding myself ‘between careers’ in 2016, I was interested in a short-term volunteer opportunity, and saw this role as a chance to see if I would enjoy working with seniors as much as I expected to,” Sirges began. “The training taught me about the importance of a structured, consistent approach to survey-taking, and how to communicate gently with individuals who have a variety of frailties and vulnerabilities.”
At first she was nervous about actually going into the care homes to conduct surveys, but it quickly proved to be immensely rewarding.
“I was able to set my own schedule, and loved listening to intriguing individuals with stories to tell,” Sirges explains. “When my volunteer role came to an end, I felt so good about my experience – and about the local care homes — that I took steps to earn my Class 4 drivers licence and applied to work with recreation programs in long-term care.”
Information about joining the survey team is available by calling the Office of the Seniors Advocate at 1-877-952-3181 or 2-1-1, or by visiting surveybcseniors.org.
A team of 10-15 volunteers is needed to engage with the seniors in Salmon Arm’s long-term care homes from January to March 2023.
“We want to make sure long-term care in BC is something we can be proud of, and this requires investment from every community in the province,” said Jurek.
With files from the Trail Times.
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