Off Our Rockers supports senior citizens with companionship to help eliminate isolation
Calgary senior care organization Off Our Rockers is a non-medical, companionship-based business that helps seniors living at home, in assisted living, and long-term care facilities throughout their day-to-day lives.
Whether it be driving seniors to appointments or the grocery store, helping with cooking and housework, or getting them active in recreational and leisure activities, the organization’s companions help in many different ways.
“We are there when the families can’t be,” says Shannon Pickerl, founder of Off Our Rockers.
Oftentimes, family members are busy and have a hard time maintaining their own lives while taking care of their parents and grandparents. This can lead to feelings of guilt, which is why Pickerl wants people to know Off Our Rockers is there to help.
“Life is busy, so when you’re unable to visit your loved one, we are a friendly face you can count on,” says Pickerl.
Finding the best companion
After a family member reaches out to Off Our Rockers, Pickerl commits to getting to know the seniors in order to pair them with the best companion.
“I love to know as much as possible about them so I can have the right fit for the companion,” says Pickerl.
“If they want to go out for walks or they’re more active, I will fit them with a more active companion. If they’re more like ‘I want to read, I want to have tea, I want to have a little bit of help,’ [then] I’ll stick them with the right fit for them.”
While the companions help seniors with daily duties and activities, Pickerl wants every companion to be seen as a friend, not as hired help.
“Seniors…are very independent. That’s why typically it’s the children that hire us. A lot of the seniors don’t even know that we’re a company. They think we go in as friends of the family, which is exactly what I want,” says Pickerl.
An alternative service for seniors
The companions do not wear uniforms, but have name tags, in order to make clients feel more comfortable.
As a recreational therapist, Pickerl recognized a need for an alternative service for seniors besides nursing homes.
“I worked many years in nursing homes. In between [recreational] programs the residents would just sit there and be bored out of their minds. So the companions, my company, go and fill that void,” says Pickerl.
Pickerl also saw that need within her own family.
“For a short time I lived with my grandmother after my grandfather moved into a nursing home. I saw the need and I helped her out. [I took] her to her appointments and things like that,” says Pickerl.
A lack in essential services
During her time as a recreational therapist and seeing the care her grandmother received, Pickerl noticed there was a lack of essential services being offered, besides medical care.
“I would notice other companion companies come in and not do what they should be there to do. They would just sit there and not interact or engage the seniors as much I think they should have, and it drove me nuts,” says Pickerl.
“That was part of the reason I started this.”
Pickerl was not the only one to notice.
“My friend, Marguerite Nelson, told me to start a companion company. She is the lifestyle marketing professional at The Manor Village, so she sees firsthand the need for companionship for seniors,” says Pickerl.
Keeping seniors at home
Off Our Rockers’ goal is to keep seniors at home for as long as possible through support from companions, continued socialization, and activities to eliminate isolation and boredom.
Pickerl says many seniors need help but don’t know the organization exists.
More information about Off Our Rockers can be found online.
The organization has been successful in Calgary and continues to grow. Next year, it’s expanding to Vancouver Island to support the seniors who often retire there.
Know more about Calgary, every morning in just 5 minutes.
Get stories you won’t find anywhere else about the people, places, and businesses at the heart of our city.
By filling out the form above, you consent to receive emails from Calgary Citizen.