Once again, I’m basing my blog post this week on a question that I’ve been asked a few times. What is Companionship Care? Quite simply put, a companionship carer is someone who focusses on overcoming isolation and loneliness for the elderly. This can be done in a variety of ways, some of which I discuss and detail below.
Generally, the reasons that most people think that care is needed in older age is due to an illness or condition. These tend to be Dementia, COPD, Parkinson’s etc; however as I’ve written about before loneliness and social isolation is a huge issue for the elderly in the UK. According to Hampshire County Council, 27,000 people aged over 65 in Hampshire are lonely most of the time. On top of this, 13% of all over 65 year olds in Hampshire live alone. It tends to be around the Christmas time that everyone tends to think about this; remember that famous John Lewis advert? However, loneliness and isolation is an issue all year round.
What makes a good Companionship Carer?
A good companion is simply just someone who takes a genuine interest. We don’t expect our CareGivers to share the same interests as our clients, however taking an interest in the client is a must. The CareGiver must be able to engage in conversation (or some form of communication), and be able to adapt to different situations.
Like much of Caring for the Elderly, companionship care is something that requires natural skills and a personality. Its very difficult to train someone in all aspects of companionship caring, much of it has to be with you in your heart. I know that sounds super corny, but its true. There are a few key personality traits that make a good companionship carer:
- Empathy. This is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings by “putting yourself in their shoes”. This is so important, as often our CareGivers are younger than our clients. The clients may feel very distant from the CareGiver. But generally, the CareGiver may be able to empathise as they have parents/grand parents that they care for too. The CareGiver needs to be able to understand and listen to frustrations and worries in order to be able to reassure them and provide the necessary support.
- Patience. Often, when someone is lonely and elderly – they may have become slow through age or a health condition. This is not always the case, but often is. They may be slow physically, but maybe also mentally. Once again, this can be incredibly frustrating for the person. Its important not to rush the person through the activities. Don’t do the tasks for them. Be patient – this will enable to person to remain independent and feel dignified whilst receiving support.
- Positiveness. This is a personality trait for successful people. Not just successful companionship carers. But its so good that it makes this list. Low mood is also more prevalent in those who are lonely. Bringing some positivity into that situation will always be a good thing.
- BE A GOOD PERSON. Sorry, cheesy again. Its simple really, a good companion is a nice/genuine person who really cares. They tend not to do this for any sort of financial gain, but just because they want to do a good thing. Generally, people feel good when they do a good thing (I know I do). So its a great feeling all round. This person will listen, they will understand that the client has so many memories. So many positive memories. Be part of those memories, listen to “that” story and enjoy it every time (even if its the 10th time today!). This is crucial to providing great Companionship Care.
What can a Companionship Carer Do?
All of our CareGivers here at Right at Home Solent are fantastic Companion Carers. I can say that, because its what we look for when we recruit CareGivers. Myself and Amy (also a Director) will get to know all of our CareGivers. And Companionship Care makes up such a huge part of EVERY care visit, whether that involves personal care or not. I say that because, getting to know someone, there interests and background is crucial to each care visit. Talking to your clients, and getting to know them so they enjoy being around you is a bare minimum requirement of the role.
Companionship Carers can:
- Take clients out on day trips – maybe to a favourite restaurant or coffee shop (if you’re in Fareham – that has to be Coffee #1!!)
- Take a client out for a walk – there are some great walks around Fareham
- Involve clients in some physical activity – at Right at Home Solent we are soon to make Hamble Sports Complex Dementia Friendly; so we will be taking some of our clients here
- Sit down with a loved one and enjoy some company / cup of coffee in the comfort of their own home
- Take a client out shopping. When being asked to do the shopping for a client, we always ask “is there any reason we cant take Mum/Dad with us?”. A great way of getting mum or dad out of the house, is by taking them shopping with us!
Where should I go to find Companionship Care?
Often, a Companion can be someone you know – someone within your family or group of friends. If you know of someone who is lonely, it may just be about raising the issue to family members if appropriate. Often family members get busy or tied up in their own lives, and it just takes a reminder to make some time for loved ones for everything to fall back into place.
Age UK offer a befriending service, which we understand is now a chargeable service. If you would like more details then click through to this link.
You can of course use a home care company like us. We offer companionship services through our amazing CareGivers. One of our office team would come out and meet with your loved one to learn about them and their background/interests so that we can ensure they are matched with the right person. If you pop into our office on Fareham High Street (not far from the famous Soothills) you can see the amazing work weve done with some of our clients. Call us today on 01329 233755.