Quality of life survey expands across B.C.

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include Me! surveyors Amanda Marsh and Kayla Malicki practice completing the quality of life survey as part of their training.

CLBC is continuing to expand its survey of individuals’ quality of life in B.C. this year and will be surveying in all regions within three years. The survey, called include Me!, asks individuals CLBC serves how they would rate various aspects of their lives. The aim is to have a better understanding of individuals’ needs to provide improved supports and services.

Surveys will be taking place in the Vancouver Coastal and Simon Fraser regions, the South Fraser and Southern Interior regions, and this year are expanding into the Kootenays. Next year, CLBC is planning to extend the survey to Northern B.C. then to Vancouver Island.

The survey is based on the work of international quality of life expert Dr. Robert Schalock who evaluated quality of life in eight domains:

  • Emotional well-being
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Material well-being
  • Personal development
  • Physical well-being
  • Self-determination
  • Social inclusion
  • Rights

Service providers are key partners in recruiting survey respondents, and the survey results are helping them evaluate the impact of their services and efforts to improve their services. Seventeen service providers are participating this year and surveyors will be conducting about 1,500 surveys. The surveys are conducted by individuals CLBC serves who are hired and trained by a surveying company to do peer-to-peer interviews. The survey respondents have now been recruited and CLBC expects to complete the surveys by the end of March.

The Vernon and District Society for Community Living (VDACL) has been involved with include Me! for the past few years and will be continuing this year.

3949_CLBC_IncludeMe_Wordmark_ME_v8“We got involved because I thought it was a different way of looking at how we deliver services and how we evaluate our impact,” says Eileen Howell, Executive Director of VDACL. “I could see that it allowed for much more flexibility in how services were delivered by focusing on personal outcomes rather than very specific goals. Focusing on quality of life just makes sense and is easy for people to understand and communicate. I was excited to hear about the lives of the individuals we support so we could focus on areas where we could do better.”

After receiving the anonymous results in a report, VDACL incorporated the findings into its strategic plan and aligned their planning with the quality of life domains. They sat down with every individual they support, along with their support network, and completed a new plan for them, shifting from a goal-based approach to looking at personal outcomes. They’ve also used the information gathered from the include Me! survey and their revised individual support plans to redevelop their programs.

Eileen has noticed individuals have started asking more questions to staff and talking about their lives with others.  She’s also noticed they have more awareness about all aspects of their lives and some areas that they may have not considered prior to include Me!, such as rights and having a key to their own home. And individuals have been more willing to speak up and take on things they feel they should have more involvement in.

“Overall it has brought us together as an organization,” adds Eileen. “Everyone can see how they fit and we are able to be responsive.”

CLBC uses the insights learned from the survey results to inform policy and program decisions.

“Working within the quality of life framework allows us to talk about outcomes. The big picture things about life that really matter to people,” says Andrea Baker CLBC’s Manager of Quality Service Initiatives. “It moves us beyond conversations about goals, services and safety. It helps us understand what is truly important to people and gives us a better sense of how we can truly make a positive difference in the lives of those we collectively serve.”

In 2015/16, the survey extended to respondents in the general population to compare their responses. Of the eight domains, the individuals CLBC serves scored highest in the well-being domain and lowest in the social inclusion domain. The general population respondents scored higher than include Me! participants in the domains of Rights, Self-Determination, Social Inclusion, Interpersonal Relationships, and Emotional Well-Being. The include Me! participants scored higher than the general population respondents in the domain of Personal Development.

Almost three quarters of the individuals who have been asked to participate have said yes. Nearly 50 individuals are paid competitive wages to conduct the survey.

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Frank Reimer (right) enjoys meeting and working with many different people in his role as an include Me! surveyor.

Frank Reimer of New Westminster is an include Me! surveyor, and he says it’s one of the best jobs he’s ever had. He estimates he’s done 50 surveys since he started in 2012. Frank tells respondents that there are no wrong answers, and encourages them to speak for themselves if they bring a family member with them to the survey.

“Meeting different people is really great and working with different people is lots of fun,” says Frank. “I enjoy the program and I’m going to stick with it.”

Service providers who are interested in participating in the next round of surveys in the fall of 2017 can contact Andrea Baker at Andrea.Baker@gov.bc.ca or 604-664-0101.


Taking the full measure of life

To read another story about how the include Me! quality of life survey is supporting agencies to provide more effective services, visit this story about how the Langley Association for Community Living has used the data to create new ways to discuss quality of life with those they support.

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