In May 2021, Senior Home Companions was proud to host a training panel focusing on the power of communication in elder care. The panel participants included local experts and current staff members, with real questions submitted by our companion caregivers. The training panel was filmed at Church at the Crossing, and the recording was then sent internally to caregivers to hear answers to their questions and get advice on improving communication with clients and families. Live follow-up sessions with the panelists are also planned for the future.
The training panelists were excited to participate in the event, to discuss not just communication but effective communication. “I chose to participate in the panel because I feel that communication is very important in dealing with the elderly, especially effective communication,” said Liz Erickson, Senior Home Companions Caregiver.
Ashley Armstrong, RN, MSN, Registered Nurse Liaison at Heartland Home Health Care and Hospice, also noted that communication is an aspect of care that can occasionally be overlooked, especially with teams of caregivers serving multiple clients. “I feel like communication is an important sector in healthcare that sometimes gets overlooked or brushed to the side,” she said. “It really does play a big part in their care and how cohesively everyone works together.”
One of the most important parts of communication is the safety and security that it provides clients and their loved ones. “It’s an important aspect of their overall safety, well-being and just being able to live their daily life,” said Alicia Reese, Senior Home Companions 2020 Caregiver Ambassador of the Year. “If the communication isn’t there, then you can’t care for them effectively.”
Effective communication can also allow those aging at home to remain more independent. “I think particularly with elder care, we have a tendency to think we’ll make the best decisions for those people,” said panel moderator Sabrina Straub, MSW, LCSW, Marian University Field Director and Assistant Professor of Social Work. “But I think active listening is important to find out what they really want, and as much as possible, to abide by their choices. And if they do make a decision that we don’t feel is very safe for them, to be able to communicate that in a kind way instead of a loss of their dignity.”
The panel also provided practical advice for communication, with Erickson reminding viewers that “active listening is incredibly important with the elderly population, as well as being patient and slowing down when you speak.”
Our team was proud to include both local experts and internal staff members on the panel, offering a variety of perspectives and unique advice for our caregiver viewers. “As a social worker, communication is important,” said Straub. “And the more I can spread the word about how we social workers do things, it’s going to help overall just making people better listeners and better communicators.”
The effective communication among Senior Home Companions administration and their caregivers was also noted by internal panelists. “When I interviewed, I loved the feeling that I got, the atmosphere, and the communication that I received,” said Reese. “They spend a great deal of time trying to make sure that they are getting the right person to provide the care that the client is actually wanting. And to me, that speaks volumes.”
Pictured in Photo Header L-R: Sabrina Straub, MSW, LCSW, Marian University Field Director and Assistant Professor of Social Work (panel moderator), Alicia Reese, Senior Home Companions 2020 Caregiver Ambassador of the Year, Liz Erickson, Senior Home Companions Caregiver, Ashley Armstrong, RN, MSN, Registered Nurse Liaison at Heartland Home Health Care and Hospice