“Clever Companion is a completely unique course,” says Kathy Bell, Director of Education at Integra College.
Integra College’s Clever Companion program teaches healthcare and wellness providers, and other professionals interested in working with seniors, how to effectively interact with seniors to keep their minds active and engaged.
“Seniors need educated caregivers and companions who can provide mental stimulation while celebrating the fact that seniors are intelligent and wise and still interested in learning,” Kathy explains. “Clever Companion graduates are able to discuss art, music, or literature with their senior clients and engage them on a cognitive level.”
The program is open to people with a university degree who have been working for at least ten years in a people-focused profession. Students include doctors, nurses, companions, caregivers, and teachers.
“Right now,” says Kathy, “if you want to hire a companion for yourself or an ageing parent, there are no regulations. In fact, anyone can call themselves a companion. Seniors or their families can hire graduates of the Clever Companion program and be confident that these people are professionals who have been trained to facilitate discussion on specific subjects of interest to their client, either on a one-to-one basis or in a group setting.”
Modules in the training program include sessions on communication, leadership, companionship and seniors’ health, as well as a practicum component. A certificate is awarded after successful completion.
In keeping with the goal of Integra College to provide second career courses, graduates of the Clever Companion program often go on to set up their own home-based companion practitioner business working with seniors.
The College also supports graduates with an online practitioner database that lists their specific areas of expertise, such as music or literature.
Integra College is registered with—and accredited by—the Private Career Training Institutions Agency (PCTIA), a regulatory body that oversees education provided by private training colleges in British Columbia. Programs are also registered with Employment and Social Development Canada, which enables the College to provide students with Federal Tuition T2202A tax receipts.