Individual Companion care: What Is It?

As per the Department of Labor, a companion is an individual who looks after an elderly or disabled person by offering them “protection,” which entails keeping an eye on their safety both inside and outside the home, and “fellowship,” which entails engaging them in social, physical, or mental activities. The companion spends most of their time keeping the client company or watching over them at their home, even though they may also help with activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing or taking a shower.

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Although companions employed via home care firms may undergo first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, companions are not specifically trained or certified. In general, home care agencies are subject to state rules; however, there can be training-related municipal requirements. Furthermore, certain home care companies could offer specific training on subjects like dementia. Using the initial shifts, family members or clients employing independent companions may ensure that their companions understand expectations, such as the client’s routines and emergency procedures.

Sorts of Support Services

Companion care often comes in two flavors: live-in and in-home. But according to Hannah Karpilow, a Bay Area-based caregiver with over 40 years of expertise, companion care doesn’t always have to happen in private homes. Companion care is a service that is typically offered as an extra, paid option to families who are caring for an elderly loved one in a skilled nursing facility, group home, or assisted living complex. A companion for a client residing in a care community may be recruited directly from the community or via a home care agency; inquire with the community about any policies they may have about companion care providers.

Companion Care at Home

In order to securely stay in their own homes, a lot of elderly people decide to employ a companion. A predetermined schedule is followed by the companion when providing in-home care. The companion is frequently given a list of activities to complete until they get used to the client’s routines and preferences. According to Karpilow, if there are other persons residing in the home, the companion’s responsibilities should solely apply to the one getting care; the companion is not in charge of doing tasks or engaging in activities on behalf of or with other residents.

In-Home Care for Companions

An elderly person may require a companion to live with them in some situations, such as when they are suffering from dementia and cannot be left alone or when they have a chronic illness and unexpected medical problems. The responsibilities of a live-in companion are similar to those of a non-residential companion, but they might need to be on call at odd hours in case the client needs assistance going to the restroom or has to be redirected after becoming lost.

According to Karpilow, it’s critical that clients and live-in companions set up clear guidelines and expectations, such as when the companion is expected to work and when they have time off. “It is impossible for anyone to work nonstop every day,” she continues.

It is essential to study local and state employment rules before employing a live-in partner. For instance, live-in employees may find it challenging to convince them to move out if necessary due to rules in some jurisdictions. It’s also crucial to pay the companion legally rather than “under the table”; for an independent companion, W-2 or 1099 paperwork confirming their income for the specific tax year must be provided.

Discrepancies Among Health Aides, Home Nurses, and Companion Care

A companion and a home health aide may have tasks that overlap. such a companion, a home health aide provides safety and companionship, but they usually spend more time helping with activities of daily living (ADLs), such helping with feeding, bathing, and using the toilet. A companion is defined by the federal government as someone who assists with ADLs for no more than 20% of their time. A companion’s main responsibility is to ensure that their client is secure and maintains touch with someone else.

A few home health aides also give prescriptions and remember to take them. State-by-state variations exist in home health aide certification requirements and training. While several states mandate training, others do not. The key differences between a companion and a home health aide are those related to insurance coverage, which might influence the choice of caregiver when working with a home agency.

On the other hand, a home health nurse, frequently in addition to the tasks mentioned above, administers medical treatments that are restricted to certified experts, such as injections, wound care, and intravenous (IV) medicines. A companion and a home health nurse might be helpful to a patient recovering from surgery. A doctor’s referral is necessary for the nursing services, which could be paid for by insurance.

Advantages of Caregiving

Having a friend helps prevent emotions of isolation, despair, and loneliness among older persons. In an investigation published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 44% of more than 2,000 veterans over 60 said they felt lonely. The same study came to the conclusion that social support might effectively lessen older persons’ feelings of loneliness.

A companion can guarantee that the person keeps engaging in the activities they enjoy, or in the event that that isn’t feasible, the companion’s existence guarantees that the person regularly interacts with someone else. For instance, companions may go with senior citizens on walks or other activities, according to Kariplow, who has done this with her customers in the past.

Who Could Benefit From Caregiving?

There are several situations that might indicate the necessity for companion care. For example, a senior citizen who is no longer able to drive may experience social isolation; in such cases, companion care might be a beneficial supplement to their daily schedule. It may also work well for someone who has trouble cooking or for someone who needs reminders for their medications due to moderate memory loss.