What is Companion Care
While the volunteers of Doctor’s Without Walls-Santa Barabara Street Medicine (DWW-SBSM) provide healthcare at our weekly clinics, they are also well aware that health struggles exist for our patients during every hour of the day. For a man who visits a DWW clinic and receives a MRI referral for his excruciating knee pain, numerous obstacles stand in the way of him making that appointment. With no phone, how can he schedule a time to come in? Can he find someone to watch his stuff, and risk it being stolen, or should he exacerbate the pain in his knee by carrying it around with him to the clinic? How is he supposed to fill out all the forms and answer all questions that come along with a doctor’s appointment? While these obstacles may seem overwhelming, with a little guidance they can be overcome: forms, bus routes, and other obstacles can be made less intimidating if a friend is present to help and explain them. The newly-formed Companion Care program matches our trained student-volunteers with a homeless person to help streamline the process of making and attending medical appointments. With a goal of improving the overall quality of health of this patient population, the Companion Care program is a student-initiated and student-run effort under the mentorship of key advocates in the local community.
The benefits of Companion Care are not only humanitarian in nature, but also economical. Untreated chronic illness can eventually develop into complex medical issues that demand countless healthcare resources. Proper management of chronic illnesses and preventive care can play a major role in reducing the burden that these complications place on an already burdened healthcare system. With the help of Companions, the local homeless can seek regular treatment for their chronic conditions and manage them before they become painful and costly emergencies.
Our scope extends beyond the field of medicine; we seek to truly companion the homeless in their pursuit of a better life. From teaching them computer skills, to helping them gain social security and welfare benefits, companions seek to empower the homeless through relationship building. Companion Care is a vision of the future, a new branch of street medicine, which may one day spread around the country and change the way healthcare is delivered to the homeless.
As for now, there are plenty of great services offered to the homeless population in Santa Barbara, but when it comes down to it, all the services provided to the homeless community are still a little foreign. The healthcare system can be intimidating, but Companions will be there every step of the way, standing in solidarity, and together we can overcome the barriers to healthcare access that the homeless experience. In tough times one does not just need another service, but a friend. We want to be there for them, encouraging them to never give up, and to continue to work towards improving their health and overall quality of life. We are not a service. We are a friend. We are Companion Care.
Get Involved With Companion Care
Visit the “Volunteer” page to fill out an application for the companion care team.
Contact Reguarding Companion Care
Please use the form below to contact the companion care coordinator directly or use our general contact page.