A Sense of Purpose and a Connection to Community
Senior Companion Program
Sunbeam’s Senior Companions are a group of senior adults, 55+, who have a passion and compassion for serving other senior adults. More than 100 volunteers spend quality time each week with other senior adults, allowing the volunteer to give back to his or her community while developing a nurturing, supportive companionship with another senior adult who may be homebound due to illness or age.
A typical annual cost of nursing home care in Oklahoma is approximately $51,000. With the goal of helping seniors stay in their home for as long as possible, Senior Companions provide quality, in-home support, and companionship to individuals who could not afford nursing home care without government assistance. Some of this support may include light housekeeping, errands, doctor’s appointments, or simply playing games or talking with the senior.
Volunteers receive monthly trainings that focus on such practical subjects as home safety, dental services, and caregiver tips, as well as health-focused subjects such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Hospice care. These trainings help in their roles as companions but also in their own personal lives.
How Do I Become a Senior Companion?
- The Senior Companion Program is open to volunteers 55+ who can serve between 15 and 40 hours per week. Sunbeam provides training before the volunteer meets with his or her match, as well as monthly trainings.
- The program offers a tax-free, hourly stipend and mileage reimbursement to help cover costs to income-eligible individuals.
- Volunteers must be pass a health screening and background checks.
To become a Senior Companion volunteer or to learn more about how to request a Senior Companion for your loved one, call Colby Bryant at 405.609.8812. You may also print and complete the form below and mail to: Sunbeam Family Services, Attn: Senior Companion Program, 1100 NW 14th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73106.
How Do I Apply to Have a Senior Companion Stay with My Loved One?
Applications to receive a Senior Companion are readily available. If you are a senior citizen who is currently receiving services through Eldercare, Mary Hahoney Health Center, Third Age Life Center or Veterans Affairs Medical Center, applications can be made through those organizations. If you are not affiliated with any of those organizations, please call Program Assistant at 405.609.8923 for details of service availability.
Senior Companion Program Improves Quality of Life for both Client and Volunteer
Eleven years ago Lavonne Sealy moved to a new community to be near her son, but once the boxes were unpacked she began to wonder, What do I do now?
The feeling persisted and Lavonne says she began to feel so depressed that her sisters came to town to spend time with her and to help Lavonne get acquainted with her community senior center. Lavonne began going each day for lunch, but still felt like something was missing.
“It was nice to have the senior center to go to, but it still wasn’t enough. I didn’t have any friends and I love people. I began to pray that God would find something for me to do, some way to help others, something to keep me calm and to provide a little extra income,” Lavonne said.
It wasn’t too long after that prayer that a visitor from Sunbeam Family Services spoke at the center about Sunbeam’s Senior Companion program, a program that matches active seniors with homebound seniors to help with light housekeeping, doctor’s appointments, errands and to offer friendship.
“I knew it was for me and I signed up,” she said.
She took the Senior Companion training and began seeing clients. About the same time, Beverly Winstead began bringing her mother Mary Ellen, 88, who has dementia, to the senior center to help her out of her house.
Lavonne and Mary Ellen began sitting at the same table and Beverly struck up a conversation with Lavonne about Sunbeam’s Senior Companion program and Beverly told her she wanted to get her mother a companion. Since they were from the same community, Lavonne put in a request to become Mary Ellen’s companion and it has been a win-win for everyone.
“Before Lavonne came into our lives, Mom would just sit in the house—no activity or no television. Once I saw how Lavonne interacted with mom at the senior center, I knew mom would do well with a senior companion.”
Beverly said that Lavonne was able to get her mother to do things she and her brothers were not able to get her to do, like playing Bingo and visiting with other people at the tables.
“We got more out of it than we asked for with Lavonne. Lavonne’s help reaches beyond my mom. It has helped my brothers and me. We all see the success and we also feel like we’ve gained an aunt.”
Lavonne feels the same about the relationship with Mary Ellen and her family, “It brought me back to life,” she said.
Did You Know?
New Senior Companions receive
pre-service training and 4 hours of on-going training each month.
were served 2015-2016 fiscal year by Senior Companions.
served this year.
received services through the Senior Companion Program during 2015-2016 fiscal year.