Keeping Connected was founded as a way to support seniors living at home, keeping them engaged to their mental and physical benefit, but without our call companions we wouldn’t be able to fulfill that promise.
So, who are these voices at the other end of the telephone? How were they chosen? Do they have any previous experience or special training? These are a few of the questions you might have and rest assured we have answers.
Here we shed some light on their selection, training, and role as part of your care team.
We like to think of our call companions as “concerned friends,” which means finding individuals who are thoughtful, courteous and polite. They should also have customer service experience, and knowledge of the risks associated with loneliness.
Part of the call companion’s job is picking up on potential warning signs, including skipping or missing medication, falls or consistently feeling down. These ‘risk indicator’ questions are woven into the conversation and reported back to the caregiver or escalated to the appropriate management depending on the response.
Guidelines and protocol are provided to the call companions to ensure that nothing is missed and everyone is well taken care of.
Vetting the Candidates
Once we’ve found an ideal candidate it’s important that references (both previous employers and peers) are called and a criminal background check is done. This is to protect you, our clients. You can enjoy peace of mind knowing that our call companions are all upstanding citizens who have been thoroughly vetted and want nothing but the best for you!
Getting Prepared for the Role
Our employees go through a very thorough training process to learn about interacting with their callers, performing an initial risk assessment, recognizing warnings signs and the tracking protocol, as well as how to respond to an emergency and whether to escalate it.
Call companions recognize the importance of their role in the wellbeing of the clients. Hina, one of our call companions, knows from personal experience just how “important it is for [seniors] to have some sort of companionship.”
Over their first few weeks the call companion in-training will participate in mock calls with live volunteers to practice their newfound skills. In addition to getting comfortable performing their duties they also get input from an education trainer listening in on the calls. This way they are able to improve and give you the best service possible.
A Typical Shift
Call companions work weekdays with scheduled calls taking place 9 am to 4 pm depending on the availability of the client. Most calls are from 20-30 minutes, but can be longer if the caller likes; it’s your choice!
Sometimes a client calls in just to chat. In this case, their call companion would be happy to take the call if they aren’t busy. If they are, another call companion can take their place if the caller is comfortable.
Calls can cover virtually any topic in addition to the normal checks that the call companion does. They’ll ask how you’re feeling, if you have been taking your medications correctly and whether there have been any incidents at home, like a fall. Then you’re free to chat away!
As we mentioned, topics of conversation have few limitations. Common topics include: sharing recipes, telling stories from the past, family and/or friends, discussing current events and technological advice.
Need assistance planning your next doctor’s appointment and the transportation? Call companions are more than happy to help! As Hina says, “when I am able to get them help, I feel proud and… satisfied that I was there to help them.”
Hopefully learning more about the call companions has cleared up any apprehension you may have had about signing up or signing up a loved one. Remember that staying connected and socially engaged with regular conversation has been proven to have mental and physical health benefits, especially for seniors. Pick up the phone and call us now to get a head start on those benefits and score a new friendship along the way.