Companionship in home care (often shortened to companion care) is a service offered by many home health agencies. Companionship care, much as the name might suggest, focuses not just on the immediate physical and household needs of the patient, but their social lives as well. In general, companion care can be broken down into three essential categories of activity:
The root function of companionship care is to ensure the well-being of the patient. To that end, a companion may provide minor medical services such as:
Showering Bathing Personal grooming Personal hygiene Assisting with at-home medical equipment Assisting with medications Changing underwear Dressing Moving around Limited specialty care
Generally, a patient who needs help with the kinds of basic daily activities listed above also needs help around the house as well. Companions can also provide:
Meal preparation Eating Grocery Shopping and Other Errands Light housekeeping (but companions are not maids) Help keeping things organized Laundry services Keeping records Other nonprofessional, light work
Finally and uniquely, a companion provides social interaction for their patient, ensuring that they don’t feel alone or useless, including:
Reading Going to events Going to doctors Games and projects Visiting friends Letter writing Having conversations Friendship
Companionship care doesn’t include professional labor like gardening or landscaping, work best left to a maid, or in most cases, nursing — though there are some agencies that only hire licensed nurses. They will generally cost commensurately more, naturally.
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what companionship in home care means, you’re either moving on looking up a more appropriate form of medical care — or you’re wondering how you can acquire companionship care for yourself or a loved one.
Make a List of Home Care Agencies in Your Area
Unfortunately, very few places advertise companionship care as one of their primary services. So you have to do a little extra homework up-front; you have to call around and ask each of the home care agencies in your area if they provide care companions upon request. You can ask them a few simple questions as you uncover them.:
Are all your companions licensed, bonded, insured and of course certified? And are they willing to provide paper proof thereof when they first arrive? Working with a companion that doesn’t have all of the requisite filings can leave you financially vulnerable if they should injure themselves or their patient. How long have they been in business? A new company is more likely to have un-vetted workers or to be more unsure of how to respond in circumstances that are unusual.. Try to find a company with at least five and preferably ten years in the business. Are they willing to work with your insurance company (if relevant)? This isn’t always a deal breaker, but if the agency can bill your insurance directly, it will save you a huge trouble down the line.
Interview the Best
As you ask those questions, get a feel for how the company works. Your chats with the receptionist are not always an indicator of how your companions will act but in general if you come away with a bad taste in your mouth, you are probably much better off in choosing a different agency.. As you cross off many — hopefully even most — of the agencies, prepare a list of questions that you want to ask when you call back those that left you feeling confident. Make sure that the questions you ask are specific to you or your loved one’s specified needs, that includes scheduling, specific health issues that will need to be worked around with, and also jobs that you want the companion to be willing to do daily..
Make Your Decision
The final decision in a situation like this is almost always an intuitive one. Having logically excluded all of the agencies that aren’t relevant, trustworthy, or able to meet your specific needs, ask the rest about pricing (naturally), and then choose the one that seems to be the best fit. You can choose to ask them for a ‘test run’ and just hope for the best!