When families are seeking companionship for their loved ones—especially within retirement homes or long term care centres—some families are surprised that the minimum companionship visit is three hours. The reason we have minimums is to fulfill our mission and philosophy of care. Within the context of long term care, there is another element that is also crucial and that is providing your loved one with one-on-one undivided attention.
One-on-One Undivided Attention
One of the reasons that companionship services are so beneficial within long term care homes is your loved one receives one-on-one undivided attention. Of course, there are wonderful staff members in the long term care home who are providing various types of care and assistance, but their attention is not undivided. They are typically rushing off to attend to the next resident because there are so many people who are in need, all at the same time. Your loved one can feel this. They can feel the sense that someone is hurrying along, or watching the clock, or checking a pager or other device. While completely unintended, your loved one might not feel important at that moment.
Our companionship services are an antidote to the rushing around and unfocused attention they’re receiving. Our caregivers slow right down and sit with your loved one. They’ll exude a sense of peace and calm that says “I’m here for you, and I’m not rushing anywhere else.” Because they have the luxury of time (at least three hours), they are not watching the clock, they are not rushing off to attend to other residents. They are focused entirely on your loved one giving much-needed undivided attention for hours on end.
We have served many clients in long term care who are in the very late stages of dementia. In many cases, these clients have very little verbal communication left. Many would say that they are past being able to recognize faces, and certainly beyond knowing names.
We served one such lady at a long term care home in Kitchener. She was non-verbal and most of the time her head hung low. She rarely made eye contact and only groaned occasionally. When family enlisted our help, many others wondered why they even bothered having a caregiver visit. Others assumed this woman could not benefit from a companionship visit since she couldn’t converse.
We paired this woman with a caregiver who had a particular knack for connecting with people who are non-verbal. The caregiver spent hours with this woman, slowly getting to know her and understand her body language. She developed trust and rapport with this woman. Before long, the elderly woman was responding to the caregiver’s voice.
The woman could be sitting in her wheelchair, slumped over with her head drooping, but at the sound of the caregiver’s voice, she would suddenly open her eyes and lift her head. When the caregiver was within sight her eyes would sparkle. She knew that the caregiver was there to see her personally. That caregiver wasn’t there to help everyone; she wasn’t there to do activities with or entertain the whole crowd. She was there for the sole purpose of being with this particular woman, and the woman knew that and responded to that individual attention.
This woman—who many might have disregarded as being unresponsive or too progressed with dementia to bother providing companionship—clearly benefitted hugely. We’ll never know how much she comprehended the caregiver’s one-sided conversation, but we know that she comprehended the feelings elicited by the caregiver. The woman felt noticed and appreciated, she felt valued and she recognized that the caregiver was there for her alone.
That is why we provide companionship to clients regardless of their physical or mental diagnoses or conditions. Making that woman’s day, providing her with a sense of joy and moments of contentment and fulfilment are what it’s all about. Would you like to have the same for your loved one?