What Is Virtual Companion Care?
Virtual companion care is an exciting newer type of care that can help supplement other types of care, using the technology of our times to help in ways that previous weren’t possible. It’s very fitting for our times, since it allows family members and caregivers to check-in on someone without being in the room with them. Also, virtual companion care can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
This can be a good option for people who don’t require around-the-clock skilling nursing availability. It can fit nicely with an aging-in-place strategy, but virtual companion care can be combined with a number of other care strategies. Here’s what you need to know:
What Types of Virtual Companion Care are There?
Regular companion care consists of an assortment of different tasks and jobs that the carer will help with. They will generally stop by the residence of the person receiving the care on a set schedule, and aren’t really there to be on call to deal with emergencies or a medical crisis. When a senior is no longer able to perform certain day-to-day tasks for themselves, they become at-risk for two things:
- Losing independence
- Hurting themselves
For instance, if they are losing their balance and aren’t as strong, it’s not a great idea for them to continue shoveling their own snow or performing other physical tasks. It might be dangerous for them to step on a stool and replace a lightbulb. These are things that need to get done, but there’s still a gap in-between not being comfortable doing these things, and requiring around-the-clock medical care. Companion care helps to fill that gap, but even companion care itself leaves a bit of a gap in-between visits. That’s where virtual companion care comes into play.
If companion care helps fill the gap between completely independent living and being in a care home, then virtual companion care helps fill the gap between completely independent living and companion care.
Virtual companion care isn’t a replacement for somebody coming over to help with laundry, to provide in-person companionship, to do other various chores, but it helps with the in-between days. There are certain things where somebody needs to be right there in order to help, but there are plenty of other tasks relating to companion care that can be done virtually just fine – and thus virtual companionship is perfect for those instances.
What Does Virtual Companion Care Help With?
It can vary from person to person depending on their needs and abilities, but it can include things like:
- Simply talking on a video chat for a while to help stave off feelings of loneliness or isolation.
- Reminders to take medication.
- Help scheduling appointments.
- Anything else that can be done remotely to help a patient.
Visit this page to learn more about other types of care for the elderly.
How Does Companion Care Technology Work?
If the senior is familiar with computers and how to use phones and technology, at least on a basic level, then you can use regular devices for companion care like a laptop, a desktop computer with a webcam, or even a cell phone or tablet. Generally speaking, though, the devices used for companion care are more hands-off and are voice-activated. The senior simply needs to learn a small handful of voice commands and the companion care technology will take care of the rest.
Companies like Amazon make video chat devices that are easy to control with your voice, but virtual companion care providers may have their own preferred technology that is built to integrate with their own back-end. If it’s a family providing the care, you can use any device that does the job, but if you’re hiring care, they may have a preference on which devices are used.
Family-Provided Virtual Companion Care
Getting the family connected is important. Daily check-ins by a care provider are very nice, but it’s even better when family members themselves can hop into the screen and make an appearance for a quick visit or chat. We need to move past the days of putting our seniors in a home and seeing them once every few months as a chore on a to-do list and instead we need to integrate these shorter mini-visits into our day to day lives, it can have a profound impact on their wellbeing, and our own wellbeing, too.
The technology used for virtual companion care also makes it easier for family members to be involved so that’s a huge plus. Beyond that, many platforms will have a virtual portal that family members can access to keep in touch with the caregiver to stay up to date on how everything is going, and to share any pertinent information about their loved ones.
The Benefits of Virtual Companionship for Elderly People
There are numerous benefits to virtual companionship for elderly loved ones, and also some downsides if we compare it to other types of care, but the downsides aren’t really relevant since V.C.C. can be used alongside other types of care, it doesn’t have to stand on its own. For example, one of the downsides is that a virtual caregiver won’t be able to help with physical tasks in the home, but they will still be able to arrange for someone to show up at the home and help, so it’s still better than not having virtual companion care, even if they can’t do every single thing remotely.
- Mental health: Loneliness and feelings of isolation are common among older populations who live on their own, which makes sense because there are normal human emotions when we’re in certain circumstances. Having a caregiver to chat with and visit can help a great deal.
- Safety: If the person receiving care needs help with something, they’re able to have arrangements made without having to take on tasks that they shouldn’t be performing themselves.
- Peace of mind: Virtual companionship offers peace of mind for family members who aren’t able to stop by for in-person visits as often as they would like to. Knowing that a virtual companion will be checking up can give some peace of mind, or better yet, family members can hop online for a visit anytime, too.
- Quality of life: This goes hand-in-hand with the other benefits we’ve discussed. Simply put, virtual companionship can help improve the overall quality of life.