Who can benefit from my companion services?
people with medical challenges who want to feel vibrant and active in body and mind
family members who are looking for additional layers of companionship and oversight for loved ones.
I offer 3 layers of support:
My focus as a companion is to bring joy and comfort into everyday living through meaningful and shared experiences. This occurs through visits at someone’s place of residence. I can visit in a person’s home or at a residential care facility.
This is a supportive role to family members who are unable to visit as often as they would like. I strive to give the quality of care that family members would give if they were able to. I provide meaningful information to help family in their role as primary caregiver, and to help them make the most of their time with their loved one.
“long distance liaison”
I also provide more in-depth involvement as needed when family members live too far away to visit regularly, or are out of town for any period of time. In this instance, I can have more involvement in the oversight directly, managing the relationships with medical personnel and facility employees face to face. I can be more active in facilitating correspondence between family members and their loved one. For this layer of support, I offer a written summary to the family members, which would include details of the visits and recommendations for improvements to the living environment. I can implement any improvements that the family agrees would be beneficial. And, I am available to the family through phone, text, or email to answer any questions or just to “check in.”
3 LAYERS OF SUPPORT:
As a companion, my aim is to help you experience satisfaction in everyday life. This will be unique for each person, and I will learn what your needs and interests are.
I can tend to your emotional needs when medical needs are being met, whether you are in a care facility and find it difficult to make connections with other residents or staff, or you are at home but find yourself more disconnected to friends and family.
Having a companion visit regularly, even for short periods, can combat depression, anxiety, loneliness, and general apathy by bringing meaning and pleasure back to life. This is accomplished through conversation, and by creating connections to projects/activities that have significance and purpose to you as an individual.
What you can expect….
Some examples of projects: home decorating...organizing...preparing for visitors...preparing for appointments...online shopping and research...preparing to put a house up for sale...moving/downsizing...writing letters/holiday cards...reconnecting with past hobbies...finding new interests...finding classes of interest...maintaining professional affiliations...connecting with the community in meaningful ways to you...reminiscing...cooking a favorite meal together...connecting to the past through photos, artifacts, and online resources...reconnecting to books through listening to audiobooks, using the library, reading aloud, or creating a mini book club...helping to use social media to stay connected to family….
I maintain a good working relationship with the staff of care facilities in order to assure that the best possible care is ongoing, even when changes occur in your medical needs.
My availability is flexible to suit your needs and desire. The length of my visits can be arranged for any amount of time (schedule permitting), depending on what makes sense to you and what you would like to get out of our time together.
The relationship with me as a companion can flourish and grow over time because I have no intention to “grow” a business and hire other caregivers. This is a private practice and I will always be the person to visit, unless previous arrangements are made to have a substitute for the purpose of maintaining a consistent schedule during vacations.
Caring for an aging parent, spouse, or other loved one poses many challenges. It can be gratifying to help someone you love during this phase of life, but even in the best circumstances, it is a task filled with emotion and uncertainty. If your loved one is living in a long term care facility, you have relief from the high demands of physical care and around the clock supervision. But often it can create a different role for you, one of oversight. You've already been an advocate with the doctors, but now you have many more relationships that require persistent attention in order to assure that your loved one’s best interest is at the heart of all decisions.
This role of caregiving for a loved one is a position that requires on-the-job training. Some people learn quicker than others, but there is very little life experience that prepares you for all that is entailed. And because each person's needs are so individual and each family's relationships are so unique, trying to learn from others' experiences will only take you so far. It is a rewarding and fulfilling position, but the challenges know no bounds. I say this not to overwhelm you, but to reassure you that if you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone!
When you just cannot visit as often as you would like, getting help can be a big relief. If you can decrease your workload and stress (and guilt), you are more able to enjoy the time that you do have to be together with your loved one. And by doing that, you also decrease your risks as a caregiver of becoming ill yourself or having depression and/or anxiety.
I am committed to helping families make the most of their time together by providing extra companionship and an additional layer of oversight.
What You Can Expect…Companionship and Oversight
During my visits, as I am engaging in all the ways described as a personal companion above, I am also gathering information that may be useful to you as the family member to have a more complete understanding of the day to day life of your loved one.
Some examples of the information gathered to share with you (the family):
the good: it is important for the family to have a well-rounded view of the daily life of their loved one. Many good things may be happening, but the items that get the most attention are often the difficulties. I will point out aides, nurses, and other staff who take particular care in their jobs. I will report on routines that seem to be working. I can provide information about upcoming events that may be of interest, so you can either plan a visit around them, or ask about them afterwards.
the difficulties within the living space: over time, what once was helpful may not still be working, whether they are tangible items (like a remote control or a favorite pen), or intangible (like certain routines or interests). I will reprort on things that need attention and offer possible solutions.
the difficulties within the care facility environment: for example, if there is an aide or other staff member that, for whatever the reason, is not a good fit to care for your loved one, changes can often be made by the facility in scheduling.
the opportunities: as I get to know your loved one, I will share ideas with you about what can be done to improve overall quality of everyday life. When I am observing during my visits, I will be noticing what I see, but also identifying things that are missing. I will make recommendations to you based on these observations as well as direct input I get from your loved one.
I can help in additional supportive ways, too:
- looking for a new living arrangement to transition to, whether it is a move from home or a different living facility.
- preparing for a care conference with members of the facility staff. If desired by you and your loved one, I can attend the meeting, as well.
- finding doctors, community support services, ombudsman, advocacy groups, family support groups, informational seminars…
- helping to prepare your loved one’s house to put on the market
- talking through end of life choices and providing you additional resources to help you through this difficult phase.
Long Distance Liaison
Oversight and Advocacy
There are many obvious dilemmas that occur in this situation of long distance caregiving. (Interestingly, long distance care is defined as over 1 hour distance away. I lived just over an hour away from my dad, but I never realized that I faced similar challenges as someone living 2,000 miles away.) The biggest challenges, though, come in the roles of oversight and advocate. Like a photographer choosing what is in the frame and what is left out, reports from both your loved one and employees of the facility are limited to what they choose to share with you. This can be stressful because you never quite know what is happening. Often, you hear from the facility when something harmful occurs, like a fall. And loved ones often don’t want to burden family who are far away, so the input is minimal. Also, there can be a strong focus on the negative.
What you can expect…Companionship, Oversight, and Advocacy
Building on the first two layers of support, personal companion and family liaison, here I add advocacy, where I take a more active role in implementing changes and communicating with doctors and caregivers. Here, with family permission, I can act on your behalf (still in a supportive role) as an advocate for your loved one. In each example below, I gain approval and specific instructions from you, the family members, on how you would like me to represent you.
Some examples of what this may look like:
implement suggestions that I report to family to improve the comfort, care, and overall well-being of your loved one
speak with staff and medical team to advocate for the best possible care
attend care conferences. Facilities always provide the option for a phone conference for family members who wish to participate but are unable to attend. But, at your request, I can represent the family in person, as well.
speak with community advocates if there are concerns regarding the quality of care in the facility, or other community groups that may assist in a variety of ways.
make and/or attend appointments with doctors, physical therapists, lawyers, real estate agents…