British Columbia

Seniors want more help with cooking, cleaning, survey says

Many B.C. seniors who receive help in their homes say they need more assistance with housekeeping and preparing meals, according to a new survey.

Some home workers have 'great compassion,' but too few skills, says advocate

Many seniors who responded to the B.C. Seniors Advocate survey said some home workers lack skills and training. (Lighthunter/Shutterstock)

Many B.C. seniors who receive help in their homes say they need more assistance with housekeeping and preparing meals, according to a new survey.

Many also expressed concerns some home workers lack skills and training and there is a high staff turnover.

The findings were contained in a survey released by the B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie. The office is an independent office of the B.C. government.

The survey, conducted in 2015, heard from approximately 10,000 seniors and family members from across the province.

The first of its kind in B.C., the survey asked a range of questions about home care — everything from the quality of care and staff, to the frequency of visits.

Nearly 30 per cent of respondents said they would like more help with housekeeping, and 12 per cent said they need help preparing meals. Another 20 per cent expressed concerns with the high turnover of workers coming to their homes.

"Housekeeping, meal preparation, too many workers, [and] workers that come have great compassion but sometimes their skills are not what they should be," Mackenzie said, citing the main issues seniors identified.

Poll conducted last fall

The survey was conducted in the fall of 2015 and was mailed to 17,000 clients.

It found 80 per cent of clients knew how many medications they were taking, but only 59 per cent said they knew why they were taking all of the medications.

Mackenzie said the province's home support program has evolved over the years. Previously, workers provided more housekeeping and cooking services.

Now, they are are mainly concerned with providing personal care such as bathing, dressing and ensuring people take their medication.

The province's home support program offers assistance to seniors with personal care and other tasks, which allows many to live longer in their homes. Home support is delivered by various health agencies either by their own staff or a contracted agency.

Services are free to those who earn less than that Guaranteed Income Supplement of $17,376. Those who earn more pay $12 a day. The survey noted 65 per cent of people who receive home support don't pay the fee.

A more comprehensive review of the home support system is expected this fall.