"Community Health Workers have been bringing attention to many of the issues raised in the survey for some time." —Carla Dempsey, BCGEU Vice-President of Community Health Services
Vancouver (21 Sept. 2016) — On September 19, B.C.'s Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) published the Home Support Survey, called Listening to Your Voice. Many of the results reinforce what B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) Community Health Workers (CHWs) have been saying. The care BCGEU/NUPGE members give their clients is excellent, but there is room for improvement in the structure of the system.
Families and caregivers need more home support services
The survey, conducted in the fall of 2015, is the first survey of its magnitude in Canada. It provides a snapshot of clients and family caregivers who were receiving home support services at that time. In general, clients and family caregivers are happy with the support they receive, but are looking for more help.
"Community Health Workers have been bringing attention to many of the issues raised in the survey for some time," says Carla Dempsey, BCGEU Vice-President of Community Health Services. "They love their work, but the lack of funding means they are restricted in what they can do."
Recruitment and retention issues impact the continuity of care
Basic needs are mostly taken care of, but clients would like more assistance, such as light housekeeping. "A clean house is part of the continuum of care," explains Dempsey. "If your environment is not clean, your health outcomes will be worse. Our CHWs are trained to look for subtle signs of change in their clients' health, and this can be done while assisting the client in their less acute needs."
In addition, clients and their families noted that Community Health Worker turnover and training could be improved, findings the BCGEU/NUPGE supports. "Recruitment and retention is an issue in the sector," according to Dempsey. "Our members need stable, fulfilling jobs, and these recommendations support that."
Survey results a first step to improvement
The Home Support Survey from the OSA takes a first step toward a complete understanding of home support services in B.C., and moves us along the road to improvements to the sector.
The BCGEU/NUPGE represents thousands of health care assistants in home support and residential care throughout the province.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE