SENIOR COMPANION PROGRAM
Karen O’Hara, Program Director
Senior Companions provide social, recreational, home management, and advocacy services to the elderly residents of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Madison Counties. By assisting with daily living activities and providing companionship, we enable adults in need to remain independent in their own homes.
What is the “essence” of our work?
Senior Companions are a vital resource to their communities. The goals of the program are to:
- Enable low-income persons aged 60 and over to remain physically and mentally active and to enhance their self-esteem through continued participation in needed community services
- Provide supportive services to adults with physical, emotional, or mental health limitations, especially older persons, in an effort to achieve and maintain their highest level of independent living
- Provide a stipend and other benefits which enable persons to participate as Senior Companions without cost to themselves
Who do we serve?
We serve frail elderly clients either in their own home or in a day care program setting across three Central New York counties.
How long has the program been in existence?
The Senior Companion Program was established as an outgrowth of the First National Conference on Aging in 1950. IRC’s Senior Companion Program has been in operation for twenty years.
How many clients have been served by the program?
We serve approximately 275 clients each year, and each client receives an average of 5.5 hours of companionship per week. The Senior Companions provide approximately 70,092 hours of volunteer service each year.
How does the Senior Companion Program make a difference in our community?
There is no cost to join our program; therefore, many elderly in need are receiving services they would otherwise not be able to afford. Also, the small stipend and mileage reimbursement paid to the Senior Companions is through a federal grant, and thus saves the Greater Syracuse Area roughly $630,0850 per year for the services we provide.
How does the Senior Companion Program’s work fulfill the mission of the IRC?
The work of the Senior Companion Program fulfills every aspect of the IRC mission – education, service, and dialogue. On a monthly basis we offer a four-hour in-service training for the Senior Companions to ensure they are able to be effective when working with their clients and to keep them up-to-date on changes in the health care system (which is beneficial to their clients as well as themselves). Our Senior Companions are a very diverse group, in fact many are bilingual, and with work elders of all different backgrounds and cultures. They continually work on the relationships they build with their clients and create understanding, a core value to our agency, through those relationships.