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Seniors' Society head worries housing survey will be a 'dismal failure'

Tom Makepeace, the chairperson of the Hay River Seniors' Society, doesn't like the format of a recent survey for the NWT Housing Corporation.

Makepeace said the survey on seniors' housing was too difficult to fill out for many seniors.

Tom Makepeace, the chairperson of the Hay River Seniors' Society, doesn't like the format of this recent survey from the NWT Housing Corporation. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The survey contained 27 questions to which respondents were expected to write out answers.

"What I found is, unless you've looked at questions a bit and mulled them over, it's pretty hard to sit down and write an answer," said Makepeace.

Plus, he noted some seniors might have physical problems in writing out answers to questions.

"Now some people are at the point where they can't write," Makepeace said. "I mean physically can't write letters. And a number of them don't even have computers."

Among the questions on the survey were:

  • 'What types of housing are needed?'

  • 'What changes to government programs would you make, i.e. programs by Health and Social Services, MACA, etc.'

  • 'What conditions need to exist to support aging in place?'

  • 'What seniors housing challenges do you anticipate in Yellowknife/Hay River over the next 20 years?'

  • 'What trends (changes) do you see in seniors housing to assist with aging in place?'

"These are not subtle little questions," said Makepeace. "They're pretty big questions, really. You could write an essay on that."

Instead, he would have preferred multiple choice questions, or questions that asked people to rate the importance of issues from one (the most important) to five (the least important).

Makepeace noted that was the format of a corporation survey in 2016.

Consultants brought the recent survey to a by-invitation stakeholders meeting in Hay River on June 5.

Makepeace wasn't at that meeting because he was out of town, but he received feedback with concerns about the survey, which he distributed to the society's membership.

His estimate is that – giving just a few minutes to answer each question – it would take over an hour to complete the survey, which could have also been completed online before its deadline of June 26.

Makepeace said the general feeling among members of the Hay River Seniors' Society is the questionnaire is too long and they don't like have to write out answers.

The chairperson said he personally filled out the survey.

"I worked on it for an hour and a half," he said.

Makepeace believes the survey format will hamper obtaining the views of seniors.

"From my point of view, it's going to be a dismal failure," he said.

Makepeace added the housing corporation and its consultants should take a whole new approach to the survey, and create one similar to the survey in 2016.

The Hub contacted the NWT Housing Corporation about Makepeace's concerns, but there was no immediate response.