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Volunteers sought to help improve care for seniors

Patient and Family Advisory Council will gather information from frail seniors, make recommendations to Couchiching Ontario Health Team

A group of volunteers is setting out to find ways to improve the care provided to frail seniors.

The Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC), part of the Couchiching Ontario Health Team (COHT), has only two members, but it is looking for more volunteers to join as it begins reaching out to frail seniors in long-term care homes, retirement homes and other settings. The volunteer work will “influence improvements in health-care navigation, virtual care, clinical management, record sharing and communications,” explained PFAC volunteer chair Susan Langlois.

“We want to find out what areas need improving, and we will also be part of the solution,” she said, noting the council will make recommendations to the COHT based on the feedback it receives from seniors.

Their interactions with the health-care system — for example, their experiences with a personal support worker (PSW) — are what the PFAC wants to learn more about.

“We can’t change what the PSWs do or what the nurses do, but we can address the way they’re interacting,” Langlois said.

It aligns with the objective of the COHT “to improve access and delivery of co-ordinated health services.”

“We want to hear their frustrations so we can figure out what we can do to improve that,” Langlois said. “If they can’t access the services because they don’t know who to call or the people they do call aren’t efficient, they’re not going to get the care they need. We want to hear what has been working and what has not.”

The PFAC is looking for volunteers who have had experiences with the health-care system in the past five years. They should be patients or family members who have been caregivers. The council is not looking for health-care professionals.

“It will be about how the patient feels, without the biases of those in the health-care system,” Langlois said.

Those interested will have to fill out an application form and go through the interview process. They can call 705-329-3649, ext. 299, or email for more information.

There will be opportunities for travel and child-care costs to be covered for those who need it.

Frail seniors are the focus this year because of the large senior population in the region.

Next year, the PFAC will zero in on another area of care. It will continue to switch its focus each year “until we think we’ve got the system working,” Langlois said.


Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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