Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is responsible for the care and well being of qualified veterans accommodated in long-term care (LTC) facilities across Canada. Priority access beds and contract beds number approximately 3,500 in 171 different sites, and approximately another 6,000 veterans are accommodated in over 1,900 community facilities.
VAC staff has monitored care and conditions through client-satisfaction surveys at larger priority access bed sites, but more scattered and remote community sites have not regularly been covered. Such visits are increasingly important as individual veterans age and are less able to represent their own interests in ensuring a common standard of quality care. The VAC Gerontological Advisory Council and various veterans’ organizations recommended that visits to veteran residents of community facilities be conducted.
As the largest veterans’ service organization in Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) is uniquely qualified to conduct fieldwork and reach out with social visits to our veterans living in community LTC facilities. The Legion has more than 300,000 members in approximately 1,440 branches located in small and large centres across Canada. The Outreach and Visitation Initiative draws on this resource to conduct visits to veterans and make reports under contract to VAC.
Volunteer Legion members, who are screened and selected for volunteer training, are assigned responsibility for visits to sites in the geographical area of their residence. In response to tasking by VAC staff, these volunteers conduct visits with veterans and provide completed reports to the head office. The report is sent with the volunteer’s cost recovery form to RCL Dominion Headquarters.
Program overview is maintained by the Dominion Command Veterans, Service and Seniors Committee. Control and co-ordination is carried out by the Dominion Command Service Bureau which has established a volunteer database for this purpose. The response and performance of volunteers is monitored and they are reimbursed only on the basis of the number of veterans visited.
If you have any questions about the initiative or as a Legion member would like to volunteer, please contact the Outreach and Visitation Initiative Co-ordinator, Gary Foster, at Dominion Command (1-877-534-4666) or at [email protected].