Our Stories

A Tale of Storm Sandy and a JFS Senior Client
There are so many stories about Superstorm Sandy and how it affected us! A JFS Home Companion was a hero for a senior in our area during the storm and has quite a story to tell.

An 89-year old woman who is not mobile and suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease is one of our JFS Home Companion clients. She lives in her own home with a JFS home companion who takes care of her daily needs.

Then Sandy came her way. As the storm was barreling into the East Coast, her son anticipated the possibility of her home lacking heat and power and reserved a hotel room to shelter his mother. Unfortunately, he could only book the room for one night. Frail and uncommunicative, the senior and her aide moved to the hotel room but could not return to her own home after one day’s stay. Can you imagine the confusion and anxiety this elderly person felt? The only alternative was to go to a local shelter in a high school. Her JFS aide accompanied her to the shelter, even though her aide had heat and power in her own home.

Although a safe haven for families and physically strong individuals, this shelter was totally inappropriate for a frail elderly woman. The available food was granola bars, water and beds were low cots in a drafty, large gym which presented a medical risk for this senior. While at the shelter, staff at JFS brought both the aide and her client warm, hearty food to nourish them. Still, our client was confronted with serious medical conditions and was eventually transferred to the hospital. After several days by her side at the shelter, the JFS companion went along to the hospital with her charge. Here, too, JFS staff brought the home companion the food she needed. The senior client recovered and was discharged home after a week long ordeal.

During the week following Sandy, all JFS Home Companions provided uninterrupted service and attendance to their seniors! This dedication is a sign of the exceptional quality training and level of compassion provided by JFS Home Companions.

The JFS Home Companion is a two part program. The first element is the bi-annual, seven-week training sessions (Elayne and James Schoke Training Program) that certify over sixty aides a year to be paired with clients. The program has reached the highest number of clients at almost 170 per year, with over 200 aides placed over the course of the year and staffed by JFS social workers to help seniors age-in-place. The second element includes assessing the needs of clients by a social worker through home visits, match-up of the client with the companion and follow-up on a periodic basis to assure that JFS is providing the most appropriate and comprehensive assistance.

Isrella Knopf, JFS Director of Senior Services said,

“We carefully match our aides with the specific needs and personalities of the clients and their family situations. Both the client and the aide need to be satisfied and working well with the arrangement in order for all concerned to be content.”

The JFS Home Companion provides a broad spectrum of services to clients. These can include: helping seniors create a safe environment in the comfort of their home; assessment and search for a companion who best matches client’s needs and temperament; personalized scheduling of companions (from 2-24 hours for 1-7 days/week; hourly, live-in or sitter service in hospitals); professional screening and training of home companions; social work supervision; home visits and follow-up; temporary or long term care depending on need; and respite for immediate family caregivers.

Home companions are trained to perform tasks that clients have difficulty or are unable to perform themselves, such as meal preparation and clean-up; laundry and linen washing; bed making; exercising and socialization; organizing activities in the home environment; grocery and clothes shopping; and transportation to medical appointments, errands, social and recreational activities.

JFS can also provide Certified Nurses Aides (CNAs) whose duties may also include feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, tooth brushing and ileostomy care.

“The growth of the JFS Home Companion is a result of people not just living longer but also requiring real hands-on care at home,” added Ms. Knopf. “We have adapted to the evolving needs by adding CNAs to our program and plan to continue to adjust as the needs and demands of the Westport community change.”


Our Stories

A Tale of Storm Sandy and a JFS Senior Client

There are so many stories about Superstorm Sandy and how it affected us! A JFS Home Companion was a hero for a senior in our area during the storm and has quite a story to tell.

An 89-year old woman who is not mobile and suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease is one of our JFS Home Companion clients. She lives in her own home with a JFS home companion who takes care who takes care of her daily needs.

Then Sandy came her way. As the storm was barreling into the East Coast, her son anticipated the possibility of her home lacking heat and power and reserved a hotel room to shelter his mother. Unfortunately, he could only book the room for one night. Frail and uncommunicative, the senior and her aide moved to the hotel room but could not return to her own home after one day’s stay. Can you imagine the confusion and anxiety this elderly person felt? The only alternative was to go to a local shelter in a high school. Her JFS aide accompanied her to the shelter, even though her aide had heat and power in her own home.

Although a safe haven for families and physically strong individuals, this shelter was totally inappropriate for a frail elderly woman. The available food was granola bars, water and beds were low cots in a drafty, large gym which presented a medical risk for this senior. While at the shelter, staff at JFS brought both the aide and her client warm, hearty food to nourish them. Still, our client was confronted with serious medical conditions and was eventually transferred to the hospital. After several days by her side at the shelter, the JFS companion went along to the hospital with her charge. Here, too, JFS staff brought the home companion the food she needed. The senior client recovered and was discharged home after a week long ordeal.

During the week following Sandy, all JFS Home Companions provided uninterrupted service and attendance to their seniors! This dedication is a sign of the exceptional quality training and level of compassion provided by JFS Home Companions.

The JFS Home Companion is a two part program. The first element is the bi-annual, seven-week training sessions (Elayne and James Schoke Training Program) that certify over sixty aides a year to be paired with clients. The program has reached the highest number of clients at almost 170 per year, with over 200 aides placed over the course of the year and staffed by JFS social workers to help seniors age-in-place. The second element includes assessing the needs of clients by a social worker through home visits, match-up of the client with the companion and follow-up on a periodic basis to assure that JFS is providing the most appropriate and comprehensive assistance.

Isrella Knopf, JFS Director of Senior Services said,

“We carefully match our aides with the specific needs and personalities of the clients and their family situations. Both the client and the aide need to be satisfied and working well with the arrangement in order for all concerned to be content.”

The JFS Home Companion provides a broad spectrum of services to clients. These can include: helping seniors create a safe environment in the comfort of their home; assessment and search for a companion who best matches client’s needs and temperament; personalized scheduling of companions (from 2-24 hours for 1-7 days/week; hourly, live-in or sitter service in hospitals); professional screening and training of home companions; social work supervision; home visits and follow-up; temporary or long term care depending on need; and respite for immediate family caregivers.

Home companions are trained to perform tasks that clients have difficulty or are unable to perform themselves, such as meal preparation and clean-up; laundry and linen washing; bed making; exercising and socialization; organizing activities in the home environment; grocery and clothes shopping; and transportation to medical appointments, errands, social and recreational activities.

JFS can also provide Certified Nurses Aides (CNAs) whose duties may also include feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, tooth brushing and ileostomy care.

“The growth of the JFS Home Companion is a result of people not just living longer but also requiring real hands-on care at home,” added Ms. Knopf. “We have adapted to the evolving needs by adding CNAs to our program and plan to continue to adjust as the needs and demands of the Westport community change.”


Contact Us

For more information about the JFS Home Companion, please contact Isrella Knopf at 203-921-4161 or email us

iknopf@ctjfs.org