During Covid, and in the past year, most home care companies are seeking individuals to assist them with care and companionship of seniors.  In discussing our position with members of a local Business Networking Group this week, participants indicated that they thought we only did in home care which was care intensive and not companionship.

The truth of the matter is that during COVID, seniors have been marginalized as they cannot attend their local exercise group, van ride, day programs and neither can our workers visit them at care homes!

That means the companion side of our business has increased and in fact is more centered on providing amazing companionship, cooking, drives, playing games, personal assistance, computer and email assists in addition to care!  You think it, we can do it.

It also means, we are seeking individuals with a love and passion for taking the time to get to know a senior and be a perfect companion for them as currently over 70% of our work is as a companion for a shut-in senior.

George is in his 90’s and recently had a live-in team of companions move in with him.  He drives a scooter, and loves to go to the bank, post office and shop at the grocery store.  His companion caregiver attends with him, and we often see George and his companions in the village performing their errands.  George does not require much care other than cuing, however the companionship, cooking, gardening and outings are making a great difference in his quality of life.

Sylvia is also in her 90’s.  She lives in her own home and wants to remain there with help.  She has had home cleaners for many years and loves her current team so there is no need for that kind of attention.  She is strong, healthy and fully cognizant of current events and keeps in touch with many of her friends throughout the world by email.  Being an ‘airforce’ wife, she and her husband were based all over Canada, and have many friends throughout the world.  Her greatest desire is to have a ‘bright young person’ to be a personal assistant, help with computer issues, organize paper work, discuss current events and take her on outings – especially drives.

Most of our families currently want their parent to live at home with help.  If that means we assist with the home repairs, we can supply that as well.  Many of our seniors live in beautiful homes with flower and vegetable gardens.  Sitting near the garden, holding the hose, or chatting with a companion while they are weeding the garden, keeps the senior doing what they love for as long as they can.

During COVID, getting your hair done, receiving proper foot care, having your nails done, receiving massages, or occupational therapy were all services seniors struggled to access – we can bring them to you at home.

Being in your own home isn’t just about care – it’s about living life the way you always have, sending emails, going to the library or training on iCloud library and assisting with downloading books.  It’s about navigating the DVD and VCR machines (Yup those VCR’s are still around)

Bill, had 3 shelves of beloved VHF tapes.  Many of them real treasures.  Unfortunately, when he moved from his home to independent living, the staff in the facility were not able to assist when he needed help to run the machine, so the tapes sat on the shelf.  This is the difference in with in-home help as we would ensure that Bill had the ‘best fit’ individual to be with him evenings watching movies.

So, in the end, we really want to get the message out that home care companies don’t just do care – they make a difference in a senior’s life – helping to keep them at home continuing on the same trajectory they’ve been on all their adult life, but just a little extra help around the home to keep them mobile, interested and outgoing.

With a huge need for performing companionship, we are calling out to individuals in their 50’s, 60’s and yes even 70’s to join us for a few hours a week to work with one or two clients, taking them on drives, cooking for them or playing games.  If this sounds like something you would enjoy, give us a call – we want you!

Care & Company Ltd., www.seniorcarevictoria.ca

It is with great sadness that we let all those who knew and loved our dog Maggie that she has passed away!

For us, she was the most wonderful addition to our home and for 100’s of our seniors, a solace, a joy and a welcome addition to their day.  Maggie impacted so many lives in her 14 ½ years with us all!  (July 2006 to February 2021)

From the time Maggie was 6 months old, she accompanied me on senior visits.   Sometimes she was permitted in the home and other times she stayed in the car, so we could visit with the seniors while on a drive or a walk.  She was exceptional with people of all ages, babies, children and our older adults!  Her passing has created a huge void!

Therapy dogs like Maggie, love to do their ‘job’ providing companionship to shut-in and lonely seniors. Therefore, we’d like to focus on some of those visits.

Our times with Jean were special as she was so appreciative and excited to see us each visit. Jean loved to snuggle with Maggie throughout our time together, constantly asking how old she was, and other questions about her.  They were inseparable.  Once it was time to leave however, Jean would always ask if I could leave Maggie behind.  She was reluctant to let us go.  As luck had it, I spotted a stuffed toy, a black poodle (yes it wasn’t quite a cockapoo) so I bought it for Jean.  Maggie 2 is what Jean named her and the stuffed toy lived on her bed.

George lived on his own for many years and missed the companionship of his cat (which he had kept hidden and secret from his building manager for years!)

Maggie would start to whine when we rounded the corner of his building to visit.  Once I unlocked the door of his suite, she would race into his bedroom, jump on his bed and lick him till he woke up.  Soon I’d hear a chuckle and George groaning saying ‘nice little dog – oooohhhh – nice little dog’, as she licked his face all over.  When it was time for George to get up, I’d peer into his room to see Maggie lying contentedly on his chest with her chin just under his, and George rubbing her back up and down where she lay. Needless to say, treats factored vastly into the visit!

George took her down the hall and to his mail-box, on his walker.  She was so complacent and would do whatever figured into the senior’s visit best.

I’ve always had therapy dogs.  Our first was a little cocker spaniel Molly.  I volunteered taking seniors to grocery shop, and afterwards would carry in their groceries, put them away and share a cup of tea and a biscuit.  Of course, there were biscuits for Molly too!  Irene always took such joy when Molly arrived back to her apartment, watching her sniff out her treats, going from drawer to drawer to find them, because she always hid them in a different place.

Years later, we had a golden retriever and a lab which I alternated in taking to a care home for complex care residents.  Some were still very capable of making it to the activity/dining room and on a particular birthday celebration, one could see Tess the golden, paws on each shoulder helping each senior eat their birthday cake.

Ginger our lab, on such a visit, heard a gentleman dreaming at the other end of the room.  He was calling out for his daughter.  She whined, ran to his side, and worked his hand to the top of her head, staying close to him, making tiny whimpering sounds.

Ginger was also a regular visitor to Ruth.  She had no living relatives and had always had a dog.  On every visit she would exclaim “I’m so mad – they took my dog”.  I still don’t know who took the dog, but Ginger filled the gap.

This particular home had a resident cat.  Needless to say, we did have an incident when the lab spotted the cat and took chase!  Mayhem in the halls!

Fit for Life operated for 5 years, with Maggie as it’s mascot.  She’s been pictured on every piece of fitness machine, in commercials, and with clients on their testimonials such as ‘I’ve benefited so much from my exercise experience, and Maggie the dog is such a great addition!’  She greeted everyone at the door.  Always with a wagging tail and on the look out for treats!

During Covid we have had difficulty providing live-in caregivers.  We asked a caregiver to work a couple of extra shifts, however she could not do so as she could not find a dog sitter for that length of time.  We reached out to our senior’s family and they were so pleased to have a dog in their dad’s life.  So now Scruffy is in the home, and his visit is very much looked forward to.

You may say, Maggie was just a dog – and she was, but what a special little girl!  The grief we feel is very real and very deep.  Dealing with this kind of grief is harder than one thinks.  In some ways when an animal goes, especially unexpectedly, it is a harder blow.  The death of a pet can sometimes be more traumatic than that of someone in your family.  The bonds we forge with our pets are powerful and their love for us is unfaltering.

When a beloved pet dies, here are some strategies to follow through your grieving process:

  1. Take the time to grieve! Ignoring grief isn’t healthy.  Negative emotions are not healthy.  Grieving is part of the process.
  2. Make room for expressing your emotions.
  3. Have a memorial or small ceremony in your pet’s honor.
  4. Make a memory place with their collar, a snippet of their hair, or a picture.
  5. Maintain the same schedule you had with your pet. If walks were scheduled numerous times per day, continue to go for a walk.
  6. Share stories and memories and joy in those memories.
  7. Be grateful.
  8. Reach out for support. This is important, as we can’t do everything on our own.  Sometimes it is extremely helpful to talk to someone outside of your family.
  9. Create a memory book of your pet – with pictures and stories.
  • Look for a pet to house sit or part-time shelter and spend time with pets of family and friends.

Often pets are brought into our homes to help in relationships, to provide significant emotional support, or to provide mental health benefits.  Having an animal to touch and to feel on your lap can provide so much comfort.

When seniors age, there is so much loss.  They lose their spouse, friends, loved ones and their pet eventually.  They may live at home or move on to care.  A companion pet is so needed at this time, and especially during Covid as many cannot get out or come in!  A visit from a therapy/companion pet is a wonderful way to fill their needs and the gaps in their life.

I for one hope that the concept of resident pets, pet therapy and companionship becomes the norm for seniors living at home, care home or complex care.

Johanna Booy – Maggie’s mom – Care & Company Ltd.


“I’m lonely…” They were not the first words uttered by Ed, 91 years old.  But he blurted that out within minutes of telling me that he didn’t need much help – maybe 3 hours every 2 weeks.  Are seniors in denial?  No, most don’t realize how lonely they are until someone comes into their home expressing new interest and passion for their life’s experiences.  Of course, our job is to validate the senior so we draw out every bit of information they can provide us to help us ascertain who they are and develop relationship.  At the end of this visit (Ed flirted with me of course) Ed received a big hug – initiated by myself.  “Oh, you don’t know how much I miss that…”

A caregiver providing care related one of her companion visits which was primarily a ‘home support/cleaning visit’.  “When I first started in home care, I was very young and the agency I worked with had us running from home to home.  Our mandate was to complete a list a mile long in 2 hours and often less and then try to sneak out of the house before our senior tried to engage us when leaving.  If you didn’t manage to – you were stuck there for at least 15 minutes meaning you were late for your next senior.  I was so trying to work by the book.  I mentioned my frustration about being late between visits to a friend and they suggested I work the visit with the senior into the cleaning, laundry etc.  My gent had emphysema and was on oxygen – it meant he couldn’t get out at all!  That made him very lonely.  It also meant, he couldn’t help me with simple chores so that we could work together and chat.  So I made him a deal.  I told him if he let me whip through the chores in an hour and a half, I’d sit with him for the last ½ hour.  It worked – a ‘win win’ for both of us.”

Now that doesn’t address the statement “I’m lonely”.  Seniors that are lonely can be also depressed.  They express very little interest for life’s pleasures because they have lost some of their zeal for life.  No one sees it coming – it sneaks up on the senior and their family.  Take for instance a loving daughter living in a nearby city who keeps in touch with her dad 3-4 times per week by phone.  She’s a busy professional.  When she calls and asks her dad how he is, he becomes animated and lively telling her he’s fine – he has a visitor and progresses to tell her all that he’s been up to.  There is no sign in his conversation that anything is lacking at all – she must hang up the phone and think ‘dad is just great’!  Our caregiver asked him why he told her all that positive stuff, when he tells her he’s lonely.  He said “I don’t want to bother her – she’s busy and I don’t want her to worry”.

We as care workers hear the most amazing things – details often not shared with medical staff or family. The secrets we have been privy to, sobbed onto our shoulders and asked to promise to “never tell a soul” are so amazing, such depth of remorse or sorrow, that one must wonder how the senior has shouldered the burden all those years.  Those secrets weren’t shared because the senior was bursting to tell; it was because someone had developed ‘relationship’, become their companion and friend.

Family are often the last to know how seriously lonely their parent is.  He or she may not need care – but they need companionship.  As a matter of fact – regular companionship may just keep the need for future care needs at bay.

If you are reading this article and you have a passion working with seniors to cook for them, read or walk with them, or provide a few hours of respite for a spouse, we need you!  Companioning is rewarding for the senior, but will take you by surprise!  You will be greatly rewarded as well.


The old adage ‘one size fits all’ may be true, but not for senior companion services.  Our seniors come from a variety of backgrounds, and cultures.  Many are retirees from various parts of Canada, or moved here in their youth from Europe or Britain. They’ve come through the depression and the war, struggling through abject poverty.  Other’s are retired CEO’s of companies, or retired teachers, administrators, conductors, or professional opera singers!

Regardless of their backgrounds, the humour and intelligence that emanates from their stories are entertaining and refreshing.  One senior quite literally told us in our interview that she met her husband in bed.  You can imagine the reaction!  While waiting for the punch line, we were not disappointed.  She was the nurse that cared for him.

Good humour is not naturally inherent in all of our elderly clients.   Some suffer from dementia, or debilitating diseases that render them unable to endure humor – or communicate as well as they once did. This can make it a greater challenge to be a companion for them.  Non-verbal companionship can be a huge struggle with the elder that no longer communicates.

Matching your companion carer to your loved one can be simpler than one thinks.  Many caregivers are looking for a meaningful ‘after retirement’ career.  With  background careers in dentistry, teaching, catering, nursing, and home making/raising children, our carers have the right mix of experience to be a good companion.  After all – the number one consideration for most seniors is ‘good food,’ home cooked meals with great nutritious selection and presentation, and the number two consideration is good conversation.  By delving into the backgrounds of the senior and the caregiver, we are able to establish who might be the best carer.  Knowing the interests of both, will help you to select the ‘best fit’.

One senior recently expressed “not having had a great number of caregivers in the past, I didn’t realize how much I dreaded someone coming.”  When asked why that was, they said “we just don’t click!  Then you sent another person for the extra weekly shift, and it was like a breath of fresh air!”

When hiring for a companion, we ask them many questions about themselves, their interests and how they think they can make a difference in a senior’s life.  We look for those who have the ability to ‘wear different hats’ – those that can leave the home of a British couple, where the husband is still called “the major” and enter the home of a widower who is a joker and a tease!  It’s being able to change your colours – like a chameleon.  Good communication requires adaptation to your audience.

When travelling home to home, the caregiver is often thinking of who they are going to see and what they may need to do in preparation for their visit.  A good companion will even bring activities with them, such as puzzles, colouring books, or card games depending on the interest of their client.

Here are some tips to consider when hiring the right agency or companion for your loved one:

  1. Do your research. Even the agency you will work with should fit the criteria of the ‘best fit’. Read through websites, and call to speak with various agencies to get a feel of the levels of support you will receive.  You must feel that communication channels are open between yourself and the agency representative and that they are open to hearing your concerns.
  2. Testimonials & references. You may ask about references for various workers the agency might supply.  You could ask for their characteristics.  Read the testimonials of other patients to ascertain if the agency is the right fit.
  3. Provide the details. Let the agency know as much as possible about your loved ones background. You will want a carer that has experience in these areas.
  4. Consistency and regular shifts. By having regular shifts, times and seniors to work with, both the caregiver and the senior benefit.  If caregivers and seniors are constantly changing, neither of them have time to establish a relationship – the visits don’t have time to create a ‘best fit’.
  5. Age matters! Select a carer that will be able to relate well to your loved one.  We enjoy matching our retired companions to our seniors.  Especially those with great cooking and home making skills.

Sometimes we match the senior to a young caregiver that reminds them of their own grand-children.  Often however there are at least 3 generations between them, and the carer and senior don’t actually ‘speak the same language’.  Use of slang words or not being able to relate to the senior or they to the younger carer, can create great huge gaps in the companion visit.

We know we have a ‘good fit’ when we receive references for companions such as these: “she has brightened mom’s spirits and shown her such love as if she were her own mom, taking her on outings and to musical concerts” and  “she has the heart of an angel and when we went to see mom, it was the miracle we all were looking for.  She gave mom’s life new meaning”! These are meaningful comments, and ones an agency will pick up on making it easier to match the carer to the correct senior.

Our companions often get as much out of the visit as they give!  One caregiver a retired RN stated after her first shift ‘You pay me to do this?  I should pay you’.

Regardless of who the senior client is, there is a certain someone that can make a difference in their lives.  We utilize a saying ‘till death do us part’ as many of our carers have seen a client through hourly, overnight, live-in and palliative care – and are present at their funeral.

It may take a couple of times to find that person, but embracing the “best fit approach” will certainly ensure the family that not only is the agency you are working with the right fit, but that they will indeed match your mom or dad to the ‘best fit’ in a caregiver.

“The days are fine, it’s the nights alone I don’t like!”  Says Bill, who lost his wife 6 months ago.  “I miss Gladys, because we would watch Wheel of Fortune and play cards after supper.  Now the evenings are so quiet!”

Many of our clients have family living in the same city, but they have children of their own, two jobs, a dog and so many other extra curricular things happening in their lives. It is a breath of relief for families to have someone else provide the companionship and friendship a care aide or companion can bring to their parent.

Providing a companion to sit with Bill for a couple of hours in the evening can complete his life.  Like Bill told us, he has music, walks, bus rides, outings with his friend, and at least one or two activities per day, but having the extra at night would complete his life.

Often the senior is isolated even in their own community.  They may live in assisted living in their own apartment, however the only contact they may have with each-other is at meal times.  June was too weak to go to her meals for a few weeks and had her meals delivered.  She said, that no one just stops in to see how she is doing, and she can be days without seeing anyone.

Bill has a family friend, Betsy that takes him out during the day.  He remarks “I don’t know what I’d do without Betsy (he has 3 daughters).  If Gladys hadn’t arranged that Betsy look out for me after she passed, I just don’t know what I would have done.”

Betsy not only takes Bill to doctor’s appointments, but sees that his dentures are reworked so he can chew his food, picks him up for a drive when she takes her 5 kids on after school activities such as violin and piano lessons, and goes on long drives on sunny days.  One day she told the office, “Bill’s with me now for a gourmet lunch – hotdogs!”  Because she is surrounded by children under 12, they call him Grandpa Bill, and his heart is so warmed by the attention.

The senior doesn’t rely so heavily on the family to provide those same pieces of assistance, meaning that when family visit it’s a fun time to share with children and grandchildren.

Providing a companion to our lonely seniors is so rewarding.  Not only can we provide that companionship, but we can go shopping, to the library, visit the doctor or dentist, arrange for the garburator to be fixed and flip the fuse that operates the stove.