The new Comox Valley hospital has been running over capacity nearly every day since opening its doors in 2017. Photo by Erin Haluschak

New Comox Valley health care advocacy group launches website

Seniors Voices wants to hear your story about health care issues

A new advisory group, geared specifically towards seniors and health care, wants to hear from residents of the Comox Valley.

If you have personal experience with health care, including home care, residential care, if you are waiting for residential care, or need respite care, Seniors Voices Comox Valley would like to hear your story.

The group is fairly new but has been working privately for a few years. It formed out of a frustration with the shortage of available residential care in the Valley and then an interest in the numbers behind the hospital running at over-capacity.

Seniors Voices Comox Valley became increasingly concerned about the state of seniors’ health services for the Valley and for the province of British Columbia.

“We have decided to lend our not-yet-retired talents and experience to creating a voice for seniors,” reads a statement on the group’s website, seniorsvoices.ca “A voice especially intended for those of us who are least able to advocate for themselves.”

“I have been trying for years to determine what the real need for residential care is in the Valley,” said Delores Broten. “My husband was very ill, paranoid, and delusional and I just couldn’t take care of him anymore, but there was no relief in sight. I tried all kinds of avenues to get information, and heard so many different stories from the system. There was a list. There was no list. There were 70 people waiting for beds on the list that didn’t exist; there were 29 people waiting for beds. It would take months. We would have to go to Nanaimo. Meanwhile, the front line workers said, ‘Hundreds, and in dangerous situations.’”

Eventually, the group developed an analysis and statistically-based projections that, with our growing and aging population, the Valley will need at least as many new long-term care beds again in 2021 when the newest facility, Golden Life, opens. Our new hospital will also remain sadly over-crowded.

But that’s a number-crunching exercise,” said retired management consultant Peggy Stirrett. “To understand and convey the true story, we need to know the real impact on people for all seniors health care services. Only the people of the Valley can tell us that based on their own experience.”

The new website (seniorsvoices.ca) is now available so the group can connect with our community. It displays lots of useful resources for seniors and about seniors’ healthcare advocacy. It is a source of information and research for the group’s current advocacy support including the Comox Valley Seniors Village families project and its analysis on our care bed shortage and its impact on our hospital operating at over-capacity.

Volunteer opportunities

“We also need all kinds of other help,” said Broten.

The group is looking for volunteers to look after the website, to maintain a database, to help with economic analysis, to make a Facebook page, to answer correspondence, to write letters, and eventually to help with public events.

But most of all, right now, they want to hear your story. There is a confidential questionnaire at https://seniorsvoices.ca/tell-us-your-story/

For more information: info@seniorsvoices.ca

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