Companion care is a lifeline for older people who live alone and don’t have as many opportunities to socialise.
A companion not only helps with household tasks and aspects of care, but they provide conversation, laughs and emotional support as well.
Companions are perfect for individuals who don’t have advanced care needs.
Let’s have a look at what companion care includes:
Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover in this article:
- Companion care is a popular type of home care for older people, especially those who live alone.
- Qualified carers visit regularly to help with household tasks and support social activities in and out of the house. These may differ from carers who support with nursing care.
- Companions play a vital role in the lives of elderly people who are at risk of social isolation and loneliness.
What is companion care?
Companion care is a type of home care that supports people with their everyday tasks.
Carers can provide support with washing, dressing and preparing food as well as other tasks around the house.
Companion care also provides essential emotional support and social interaction from the comfort of someone’s own home.
This emotional and social support is a valuable resource to prevent isolation and loneliness in older people.
Who can receive companion care?
Anyone can receive companion care, no matter their age.
But it is a popular option for older people, especially if they live alone or with limited family support.
Other reasons for companion care include:
- Being unable to leave the house due to shielding or another health need
- Having social anxieties about leaving the house
- Living in an isolated location with limited access to support
- Only requiring non medical care such as help with household tasks
Stigma of care
Receiving companion care doesn’t necessarily mean that someone doesn’t have family or friends who care about their wellbeing.
Quite the opposite.
Companion care can be used by people whose families are living far away and can’t provide daily support.
Or whose schedules don’t allow for the level of social support needed, perhaps due to taking care of small children or work commitments.
Plus we tend to think that organising companionship for your loved one is an act of care, as they receive the support they need or want.
How does companion care prevent loneliness?
Loneliness and social isolation is one of the biggest non-medical issues affecting the older population.
It particularly affects this age group due to factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss.
These factors can make it tricky to get out and about and live life as one would like to.
They can affect mental health and motivation as well as the physical ability to access social support.
Loneliness in later life
Age UK produced a report on Loneliness in Later Life, which details the prevalence and problem of loneliness in UK society. Read the full report here.
The report found that one in twelve people, around 1.4 million older people living in England, are often lonely.
Failure to tackle the problem of loneliness in our ageing population means that the number of often lonely older people will increase to 2 million by 2026.
Loneliness and health risks
While loneliness and social isolation may not initially seem like a medical issue, it can have significant effects on health.
The CDC´s report on loneliness in the US suggests that “social isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia and other serious medical conditions.”
These include heart disease, stroke and mental health issues.
And that “social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.”
In light of these findings, it’s now more important than ever to fight the issue of loneliness in elderly people.
Doing so can help them lead more independent, happy and healthy lives and help reduce the pressure on adult social care and the NHS.
Who provides companion care?
Companion care is carried out by trained carers, often with an agency who specialise in home care for elderly people.
An individual may have one or two carers who visit on rotation, depending on their work schedule.
The rotation ensures that the carers are able to take sufficient days off so they can provide the best level of care.
A family member or friend from the community may also informally take on the role of companion care.
What does companion care include?
Companion care is designed to help with the social aspect of care, in order to prevent loneliness and diseases caused by social isolation.
It can also include household help.
This is support with household tasks, while encouraging your loved one to maintain their independence by being active in their home.
Household help can include tasks such as:
- Washing up and cleaning
- Shopping for groceries and doing errands
- Gardening and small maintenance tasks
Often professional carers that support more complex needs are able to provide a level of social interaction.
However their priority is health, so they may not be able to offer companionship and household help.
Always check with your care agency what the carers are able to provide on their visits, so you can organise the right support.
Types of companionship
Companionship comes in many different forms such as:
- Having a cup of tea and a friendly chat
- Light cleaning tasks while engaging in conversation
- Accompanying to the doctor, hairdresser, shops etc
- Cooking and eating a meal together
- Attending a social event or community group together
- Going to church or faith group
- Transport for events or errands outside the house
- Exercise reminders and support
How to find the right companionship care
Use the Sweet Pea personalised search to find the right companionship care for yourself or your loved one.
It’s easy, just enter your care needs and we’ll find available carers in your area.