Dina Campeis 2017-12-08 23:22:30
Canada’s population is aging faster than ever before, and already some of our resources are stretched to the max. More and more seniors want to live in their own homes and, with advances in technology, are able to do so. But at some point, there usually comes a time where more help is needed. Some folks will opt for a personal support worker (PSW) or nurse. Others can get by with a handyman to get on a ladder to change a lightbulb, fix a leaky faucet and generally help to maintain the home. And those who are at risk of being lonely may decide to have someone visit for a few hours a day. After all, having someone to talk to, share a meal with, teach and learn from and, of course, laugh with, can really brighten up the day. Pets are wonderful, but nothing genuinely compares to human companionship for most of us. What is a companion? Think of a companion as being much like a friend. A companion is someone who you will get to know, and trust and build a relationship with—someone with whom to share your life stories, engage in hobbies and perhaps even help you with that bucket list you’ve had for years. Companions are as varied as the clients they serve. They may be young and creative, or older with a life full of experiences. Companions can help you or a loved one stay active—physically, socially and intellectually. We always look for innovative ways to provide our companions with the tools they need to create a positive experience—for example, locating an armchair television travelogue about an African lion safari, if travelling is no longer feasible. But what do they actually “do”? It’s up to you. A companion might do the shopping for a client who is no longer able to go out, or sing and play the piano for a client who loves music. Companions won’t mind reading a book or newspaper out loud. Want your nails polished? No problem! Need to go to a medical appointment and require someone to take notes for you? They’ll do that! A number of the companions I’ve met are tech savvy, too, so can help you set up a Facebook account, download your favourite music and figure out how to use the television converter so that you can watch the hockey game together. Different to PSWs—who provide care services such as bathing, continence care, oral care, transferring a client from bed to a chair and other tasks that require specialized training—lifestyle companions instead bring their life, career(s), hobbies and leisure skills to their assignments. Rest assured, however, that well trained and experienced PSWs and companions will address the personal, social and emotional needs, desires and objectives of their clients. It is, after all, their compassion and love of engaging others in activities and conversation that prompted them to choose these vocations. When should I consider hiring a companion? Finding companionship care need not be a formal arrangement through an agency. Instead, it can be provided by a family member, neighbour or member of a community or faith organization. If you are running too many errands and feel as though time with your parent, neighbour or friend is not being spent in the best way possible, a hired companion may just be the ticket to a more organized respite. Dina Campeis, Bsc Kinesiology, is the community relations manager at Mosaic Home Care Services and Community Resource Centres (mosaichomecare.com). John’s story... When my husband John was in Providence Hospital, our social worker suggested that I arrange extra help for him both there and later at home. Our plan was to try out several different caregivers until we found the right match for John. Both of the caregivers we interviewed were exactly what we wanted, and more. Their soft and gentle manner made John like and trust them on the first day. They engaged him in conversation about topics they knew he liked, then added different ones to keep him interested. They also knew instinctively which bed exercises would help him to regain his strength, and have continued to encourage him in so many ways. Companions can benefit those who: ■ Are living alone ■ Have no family or friends living close by ■ Lack access to transportation ■ Have had a recent critical life change, such as the death of a spouse or a sudden loss of mobility ■ Would like someone to talk to ■ Appear to be socially isolated ■ Need a break from caring for a loved one
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