A career as a patient companion offers the satisfaction of helping others live their lives to the fullest. If you are caring, passionate about helping people, have a nurturing personality and are a multi-tasker, this may be the career path for you. Patient companions provide comfort and emotional support for their clients by being present, listening and responding to their needs.
Salaried Patient Companions
A family may employ a patient companion, also known as a companion sitter, to provide companionship and supportive care for a patient requiring close observation. Annual income for a patient companion varies dependent on location, the amount of time spent with the patient, duties, care required and the level of responsibility the patient companion assumes on behalf of the patient. Salaried patient companions typically work through a patient advocacy or care provider such as a hospital, hospice or care agency. Salaries are based on the education and experience of the caregiver. Live-in companions typically receive higher pay than day companions; room, board and use of an automobile are often provided, as well. Wages for a companion sitter typically compare to the local minimum wage. However, many families are willing to pay more if the patient is well cared for and happy with the services provided. Companion sitters in urban areas normally earn from $10 to $12 an hour.
Compassion, understanding and empathy are integral qualities for a patient companion. A patient companion must be able to anticipate and recognize patient needs, providing a safe and comfortable care environment. A patient companion should project positive energy and emotional support. Physical strength and fitness may be required if the patient companion is required to lift or support the patient. Companion sitters must be level-headed, able to respond to a medical emergency and trained in CPR. Prior health care attendant or babysitting experience may be required.
Patient companions advocate for the patient in communicating with nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners. They enable patients to continue living at home or may aid them while traveling. A patient companion provides respite for a family caregiver, giving companionship and comfort to the patient while lightening the burden of the family.
A patient companion may be a helpful family friend who simply spends quality time with the patient. A companion may read, play cards or simply visit with the patient, allowing the family caregiver to "take a break." A patient companion may travel with the patient, allowing the patient to visit family, friends or destinations they could not visit without assistance.
Some patient companions provide their services on a volunteer basis, thus receiving no pay for their time. They visit patients during hospital stays, in their homes or in a hospice setting. Volunteer opportunities offer a way to serve and provide friendship to persons whose lives are limited; volunteers can also gain valuable skills and experience. Although volunteers do not receive a salary, you are providing a compassionate humanitarian service and gaining valuable experience caring for elder, ill or handicapped patients. Some hospitals and hospices provide volunteers with a small stipend to offset incidental travel expenses. Gaining experience as a volunteer patient companion can additionally help you obtain a paid position later on.