Best Job Ever: Surrey Social Companion
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.
Working as a Social Companion allows Honora to combine the people skills honed working over 30 years managing the Chanel counter at Bloomingdales and Wannamakers with her gentle, caring, persuasive manner. “I deeply care for my clients and we become friends,” Honora shared with a caring smile. “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 this role in her own family 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.
“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 needed to support them.” Honora had been working as an interior designer, but 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 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 the 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 are employees, and pass extensive background checks. “Surrey offers care you can trust,” says 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 can feel. The one-on-one special care of a social companion gives adults something to look forward to and stories to tell the family over the typical dinner “How was your day?” conversation.
Honora also keeps in touch with the adult children of some clients. “When my client has dementia and cannot remember the detail 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 your Mom or your Dad and you wish they were just like they used to be. They have children of their own, and full time jobs so they feel stressed.”
Frank added, “the peace of mind we can offer a family who knows that an aging parent has company, is able to keep medical appointments, and can participate in social and cultural activities while they are at work is a great stress relief.”
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.”
Call Surrey Home Care Services at 610-647-9840 to learn more about becoming a social companion or obtaining a social companion for a loved one.