If you or your loved one are in need of a little extra emotional support or are feeling lonely, you may want to consider companionship care.
The word “care” often makes people think of medical or personal care. However, lots of people who don’t have personal care needs can still benefit from a companionship care service. Unlike personal care, companionship care services don’t help with medical or more private needs such as washing, toileting and dressing. Instead, a companionship carer can focus on keeping you company and helping you enjoy yourself.
Studies have shown that social isolation can have massive negative effects on people. We live in an increasingly isolated society, and if you or your loved one find it hard to get out and about, it’s easy to become lonely.
Unlike personal care or nursing care, companionship care is more like the kind of support you might receive from a trusted companion, such as a family member, friend or neighbour. A trusted companion can visit your home and spend time with you, providing emotional support, someone to talk to and a friendly face on a regular basis. It’s also sometimes known as companion care or companionship services.
As with other types of home care, companionship care can vary depending on your needs. Some people may want someone to visit them daily, whereas others might need just a bit of support less often.
More than one million older people in the UK say that they’re often lonely. But if you or your loved one are feeling this way, a companionship care service could be a great solution.
You might want someone to visit you regularly – maybe you want someone to read, watch TV or just chat with over a cup of tea. Or maybe you’d like to do something more active, like walking together, playing games or going on outings.
Having a trusted companion visiting on a regular basis can make a huge difference to your life.
Leaving the house can sometimes feel daunting if your mobility isn’t what it used to be, or if you’re struggling with anxiety or other mental health conditions. Alternatively, you might just want a friendly face along to keep you company.
A companionship carer can accompany you when you go out, whether that’s to the supermarket, a regular hobby or a medical appointment.
Even if you don’t need personal care, as we age and manage illnesses and other obligations, it can be hard to keep up with the home and other necessary tasks. If you’re looking for some support here, a companionship carer could help. Some tasks that your carer might be able to help with could include:
Even if you don’t provide personal care to your loved one, being their main social and emotional support can be a big undertaking. If you spend a lot of time with a loved one who might otherwise be isolated, you might worry about what would happen if you couldn’t be with them. Maybe you have a busy time at work coming up, you’re planning a holiday, you’re unwell, or you just need a brief break.
As well as being a longer term arrangement, companionship care services can also support your loved one for a short time while you rest and recharge. This is known as respite care.
Isolation and loneliness can affect people of any age, but they’re particularly common in older adults. If your spouse or partner has died, your children have moved out of your home, you’ve left work, or your friendship group finds it harder to meet up, it’s very easy to become isolated. More than a million older people say that they might not speak to friends or family for a month or more.
Social isolation and being lonely are linked to a huge variety of health risks – it can be as bad for your health as smoking. There’s a lot that you can do to combat loneliness, but for people who are older, or who find it harder to get out of the house, it can be difficult.
Loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking. It can increase the risk of:
It can also lead to poor physical health, a reduced immune system, poor sleep quality, and higher levels of chronic pain. People who are isolated and lonely are more likely to need to visit their GP or be admitted to hospital.
Given the risks of being lonely, it’s easy to see that companionship care can be hugely beneficial for many people. A home care provider like Tiggo Care can provide professional companion carers to help alleviate the risk of social isolation. When selecting a home care provider be sure to check the rating they've received from the Care Quality Commission. A good home care provider will create a companion care plan to ensure your loved one is properly supported.
Social isolation can often be a reason that people choose to move to residential homes or retirement communities, so having a regular companion visit can help you or your loved one remain at home longer.
As we’ve seen, isolation and loneliness can raise the risk of certain illnesses. Spending time with a companion can mitigate some of that risk.
Talking and keeping your mind active can reduce the risk of developing dementia, and spending time with others may reduce the risk of becoming depressed.
For people who are already living with mental health conditions, a companion may be able to help there too. If your loved one’s anxiety is exacerbated by tasks like going out alone or worries about phone calls, for example, a companion carer can support them with these jobs.
If a companionship carer is helping with food preparation or joining your loved one for meals, you can be reassured that they are eating and drinking regularly, a hugely important factor in staying healthy as they age.
If your loved one spends a long time alone, you probably worry about them and their safety. What if they fell and couldn’t call for help? What if they forgot to close the front door, or left a tap running, or didn’t turn off the oven? If they’re very lonely, will they answer the door to strangers, or fall victim to scams?
A companionship carer can keep an eye on your relative or friend. If they’re visiting regularly, you can be reassured that your loved one won’t be left alone for long periods of time. They’ll notice issues like open doors or running taps, and, if they become recurring issues, can flag them up as possible causes for concern.
Your loved one may have concerns of their own. Many people’s worries become worse when there’s no one to discuss them with. Having a regular visitor to talk to can help.
If they feel uncomfortable being alone at certain times of day, their companion could visit at those times.
For people who have become isolated and stopped doing some of their usual activities, it’s easy to lose confidence. Spending time with a companion can help. If your loved one is anxious about leaving their home, for example, their companion carer could help them go for a walk.
Spending time with a companionship carer can give you or your loved one something to look forward to. Activities and hobbies that have been given up can be restarted now there’s a companion there. Whether you or your loved one used to enjoy walks around the neighbourhood, a good game of chess or attending a local club, these are now a possibility again.
Your new companionship carer could become a genuine friend.
If you’re looking at finding companionship care services for a friend or relative, it may help to discuss it with them first. Many people find companionship care easier to adapt to than personal or nursing care. It doesn’t involve anything medical or intimate, such as washing or dressing.
Encourage your loved one to think about things they would like to do with a companion. This might be things they currently do with family members or friends, especially if you’re looking for respite care. It may even be things that they’ve stopped doing over time. Do they miss taking walks around the neighbourhood or going out to social groups.
Consider how often your loved one will need a companion carer, and for how long. If they want someone to share a cup of tea and enjoy a TV show with, they may want their companion to visit more regularly than if they just need someone to accompany them to the occasional appointment.
If you’re concerned about how to pay for companionship care, there are a variety of care funding options. You may be able to fund it yourself, or be able to pay for it through various benefits.
Companionship care can be a vital service for people who are feeling isolated. Rather than providing personal care, they’re there to be an emotional support. Whether that means sharing a cup of tea and enjoying a chat at home together, or accompanying them to appointments, companions can improve an older person’s quality of life.
Companion carers can be a friendly face for someone who has been feeling lonely, and can provide invaluable peace of mind for family members and friends.
Companionship care is not like personal care. Instead, a companionship carer provides emotional support and a friendly face for someone who needs it. They may help with some light housework or similar tasks, but are mostly there to provide friendship and may accompany their client on outings.
Social isolation can affect your physical and mental health. It can lead to an increased risk of depression and other mental health conditions, as well as physical illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. People who are isolated and lonely are also at a higher risk for developing dementia, and may need more hospital admissions.
Companionship care can help people feel less lonely isolated, which leads to improved health outcomes. It can also improve people’s confidence, and help them feel safer. Friends and relatives will also benefit from having the extra reassurance that their loved one has someone else in their life.
Companionship care may be easier for many people to accept than personal care – after all, it doesn’t involve any medical or intimate care. A companion is more like having a friend pop round for a regular visit. Encourage your loved one to think of activities they would like to try with a companion, such as playing board games, going for a walk or preparing food.
Get in touch with Tiggo Care today to see how we can help you or your loved one.