The Value of CompanionshipThe Value of Companionship
The Oxford English Dictionary defines companionship as:
“A feeling of fellowship or friendship.”
This definition perfectly sums up how we see a relationship between a live-in carer and the person they are supporting. Fellowship and friendship are feelings that promote warm interactions, positive associations, happiness, joy and laughter, all of which ultimately improve the wellbeing of the person being supported as well as the live-in carer.
Companionship is hugely underestimated in its power to enhance a person’s life. As we have recently seen as the debates have raged over the proposal to end free TV licences for over 75’s, for older people who live alone the television is a form of companionship that is vital to them. With this in mind, the value of actual real-life human interactions is immense, and when two people get on well that friendship can be enduring.
At Promedica24, we are very proud of how companionship runs through all of our services, from our specific companionship and support service, where a person may have limited health and care needs but requires some support to maintain an independent and fulfilling life, all the way through to our end of life care service, which focuses jointly on companionship for the person as their life nears its end alongside being a companion for the person’s family as they navigate their way through a hugely emotional time.
We view companionship as the very essence of what makes us human, drawing on the natural tendencies most humans have to be sociable and friendly. For us, true companionship is:
- Mutual: Both people are contributing through mutual exchanges that place them the same level. It blows the idea of being task focused and the traditional view of ‘patients’ and ‘professionals’ completely out of the window.
- Empowering: It allows the person who needs care and support to give something back. They are an equal, as much a companion to the live-in carer as the live-in carer is to them. They are never a passive recipient of care.
- Expressive: Companionship provides a safe space for the person being supported to express emotions and experiences, something that is vital for their wellbeing, and for these to be acknowledged, understood and empathised with. A live-in carer will know the most appropriate ways to communicate with the person that they are supporting, incorporating verbal and non-verbal communication, to maintain and strengthen their companionship.
In practical terms, companionship involves sharing our time, space and the things that matter most to us, be they the day-to-day mundane or special one-off celebrations, and of course this happens more naturally and easily in the comfort of the person’s own home when they are sharing it with a like-minded live-in carer.
Companionship cannot be engineered or forced, it happens because both people want it to and it feels right. This is why a cornerstone of our service is to match the person needing support with the most appropriate live-in carer. We make those introductions and then see if the relationship develops. If for any reason it doesn’t, we look for another live-in carer.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to companionship, however, is in its focus on being present. It’s all about the here and now, nothing else matters. A live-in carer is totally focused on the person they support and their friendship. It is this type of attention to detail and relationship-building that is the ideal antidote to any loneliness an elderly person may have felt prior to having a live-in carer.
It’s important to address loneliness just as we would address hunger by eating or tiredness by sleeping. As we think more about loneliness during Loneliness Awareness Week, we firmly believe that the companionship offered by live-in carers is the ideal way to end the loneliness that many older people experience in their own homes, bringing fellowship and friendship back into their lives.