Five Lamps and Birdie: rolling out our new companionship calls

4 minutes

We know that now is a difficult time for older adults who may be self-isolating due to COVID-19. Some will have support and help from families, who will check in on a regular basis (over the phone, on FaceTime/Skype etc.) but others who may have fewer people around them to ask how they are.

For agencies who will be preparing to reduce the number of face to face calls (due to self-isolation, carer sickness etc), Birdie is rolling out companionship calling, to make sure that no clients are left without someone checking on their physical and mental wellbeing.

Our companionship calls offer an additional layer of support to older adults who may be feeling increasingly isolated and uncertain about what the coming months will bring, whilst providing much needed peace of mind to families.

Birdie's companionship service offers 15 minute telephone calls to older adults and aims to:

  • Provide a friendly phone call, supporting people to feel less isolated and helping to keep a track of how they are getting on whilst in isolation.
  • Detect any changes in wellbeing or circumstances that can be shared with the care agency and/or family members (e.g. does the person have a temperature? Does the person have enough food in the home? Has the person been in contact with any family or friends?).
  • The companionship service will be offered by trained care coaches who will record brief details of the call onto the Birdie app, so that these are visible to the care agency and/or the family.

The first partner using our new service is Five Lamps, a domiciliary care agency based in Thornaby, We spoke to Cheron Moore, the registered manager, to see how she’s been getting on with Birdie, and how our companionship calls have been helping.

“Hi Cheron, firstly can you tell us a bit about your business?”

I’m Cheron Moore, the Registered Manager for Five Lamps in Thornaby. We run a domiciliary care company. We're not very big and we're a not-for-profit as well, so with any money we make, we put this back into the community for extra projects to help the elderly. 

“What’s your biggest challenge as a home care provider during the crisis?”

Our biggest challenge right now is to keep care workers motivated. They're very scared, and it's been a bit of a challenge for us to try and enable them to feel safe, and to reinforce that the people they're looking after really need them. Our clients can get a little apprehensive and scared - it's a challenging time for all of us, but the carers are so good at reassuring them. So that's it - making sure that everyone is safe and feeling supported. With Birdie adding in that extra support network, we can help to further put the client's minds at rest.

“Birdie has offered companionship calls to your clients - can you explain why a companionship call is important?”

Birdie's companionship calls provide an extra layer of wraparound support. In a time where our clients can't go out or see family as much as they'd like to, they may feel quite isolated. What we're wanting is to give them that extra bit of reassurance, that there's someone there who they can speak to. Someone who can listen and who wants to listen, and can make a difference to their days. The companionship calls mean that clients get an extra bit of care and support and the calls offer an additional touchpoint. If any concerns are raised during the calls, these can be flagged to us so that we can respond quickly. There may be things that clients don't want to speak about with the carers or the office team, so hopefully they'll feel able to offload during the companionship calls. 

“How do you think you will benefit (as an agency) from Birdie providing these calls?”

Not only do the companionship calls provide peace of mind for us, but at the moment we're so busy trying to keep everything afloat and making sure everyone is safe, and that care is provided, that sometimes we simply run out of time to offer that much needed companionship. There aren't enough hours in the day at the moment to provide all of the support that we'd like to. Having Birdie there is like having an extra team who can help us to make sure that we're engaging with our clients in these difficult times. 

I finally had a moment to sit down and look through the logs and have been reading through all of the companion call reports. They allow us to easily pick up on areas that we can get involved in. I've also let our Quality and Assurance Manager know about the service so she'll be following up with clients who have specific concerns or needs. 

“How much work for your carers will these companionship calls save?”

Normally we'd be doing reviews and telephone reviews. I'd say the companionship calls are saving us up to 14 hours p/w at the moment, at a time that is so crucial to us to keep offering that much needed emotional support and reassurance. 

“How has Birdie been helping during the COVID-19 crisis?”

We use Birdie every day for our daily logs and our MAR charts, and it's honestly been invaluable. We're able to monitor daily what's going on in calls, and carers can alert us immediately if there are any problems which means we don't always have to be on the end of a phone, meaning we can focus on what matters. It's been completely invaluable for us to be able to review activity in real-time. I'm looking forward to familiarising myself with the new COVID-19 features - they sound very helpful.

“Is there anything else Birdie can do to help?”

During the crisis, you've been absolutely exceptional. You've provided outstanding customer service and we're so grateful. Without the companionship calls, we wouldn't have had the time to provide that additional reassurance to our clients so you've really stepped in and helped us there. I'd like to learn more about how Birdie can help with shopping. In general, we're looking forward to getting body maps and finance logs - we really need those. Otherwise, we're very pleased with how everything is going. 

“What will your greatest challenges be when you go back to a new normal?”

Retaining staff is always a challenge at any time. Whether we're in the middle of a pandemic or not - both recruitment and retention. Of course being able to pay our care workers better wages that reflect the excellent work that they do would be the ultimate thing we could do to support retention, along with incentives, and perhaps qualifications, too. I'm also interested to learn more about any support we can get to enable us to go over and above for our clients. We're looking forward to working with Birdie to explore some of these areas further. 

Interested in companionship calls for your agency? Get in touch with us at today to request the service, or if you’re not yet a Birdie partner, get a free demo here

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