Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 09/05/2017

Best Job Ever

Best Job Ever

Honora Jackson has an amazing job. She spends her day going to lunch, attending concerts and visiting with dear friends. Honora is a Social Companion for Surrey Home Care Services.

As a Social Companion, Honora combines the people skills honed during more than 30 years managing the Chanel counter at Bloomingdales and Wannamakers with a caring, persuasive manner. “I deeply care for my clients, and we become friends,” Honora shared. “All of this happens while I am assuring they are safe, well cared for, and participate in activities as much as they are able.”

Honora served as a caregiver for her mother and mother-in-law, so continuing to care for others who are at this stage of life seemed like a perfect job. Honora is also no stranger to changing careers.

“The first time I had to reinvent myself was when I became a single mother,” said Honora. “I had two young children, ages 3 and 8, and I needed to support them.”

Honora had been working as an interior designer, but she needed to have a family friendly job closer to home with limited travel. She spent half a decade at Merle Norman in Exton. A change in ownership left her in transition. Then Chanel recruited her.

“When I retired from Chanel, it was time for another reinvention,” said Honora. “I need to be with people, and I need to feel that I can continue to make a difference in the lives of others.” Finding Surrey Home Care Services was just the right fit.

Working as a Social Companion

Social companions provide their clients a supportive connection to the world outside their home. They help with everyday tasks such as meal preparation, grocery shopping and transportation, while assuring the safety of their clients.

“I called myself a sous chef for one client,” said Honora. “I cut up the vegetables and made salads, so that when her husband returned from work they could cook dinner together.” Honora matches activities with the interests of her clients.

“Depending on their interests, we visit museums, attend art classes or go to concerts,” said Honora. “And, of course, I drive my clients to their doctor’s appointments.”

Honora has worked with six clients during her tenure with Surrey Home Care Services. One client taught her the stock market as they looked up stocks online at each visit.

“Social companions provide a means for clients to get social interaction that keeps them vibrant and mentally engaged,” said Frank Byrne, Senior Director of Home Care Services at Surrey Services for Seniors. “Our social companions are carefully matched with clients by Surrey’s Client Care Coordinators, who are nurses and social workers, after a personalized assessment of the client’s individual care needs.”

All Surrey Home Care Services staff members are employees, and they pass extensive background checks. “Surrey offers care you can trust,” said Frank.

Decrease isolation; increase happiness

Living alone or no longer being able to drive can cause many seniors to feel isolated. When families engage Surrey Home Care, they decrease the isolation older adults feel. The one-on-one special care a social companion provides gives older adults something to look forward to and stories to share with family over dinner.

Honora also keeps in touch with the adult children of some clients. “When my client has dementia and cannot remember the details of our activities, I email their children so they can discuss my client’s day over dinner. This brings the family together.”

Honora has a special place in her heart for the adult children who care so deeply for their parents and sometimes feel guilty for getting help. “It is so hard for the kids. This is their Mom or Dad, and they wish they were just like they used to be. Most of these adult children have children of their own, and full time jobs, so they feel stressed,” she explained.

Frank added, “The peace of mind we can offer a family is a great stress relief. Now they will know that their aging parent has company, is able to keep medical appointments, and can participate in social and cultural activities while they are at work.”

Accepting help

Some clients do not think they need a social companion. “I’ve had clients who started our engagement with ‘I don’t need you,’” Honora said. So she charms them. “I’m patient and understanding. It is hard to admit you need help. So I just say, ‘Well, I’m here today,’ and we take it a day at a time until we settle into a routine and build a relationship.”

Honora starts every day with this thought, “Let me help someone today and make a difference in their life."


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