When Caregiving is “In Your DNA”
By Bobbie Doe, Director of Human Resources for ComForCare
Homecare provides high-quality, compassionate care to more than 5 million Americans annually. And with the number of Americans aged 65 and older projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, caregivers are needed more than ever.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2016 to 2026, there will be 7.8 million direct care openings and the direct care workforce (personal care assistants, paid caregivers, home health aides, and nursing assistants) will be larger than any single occupation in 2026.
The caregiving industry will be hard-pressed to find caregivers like Luis Guzman, a ComForCare caregiver in Palm Beach who was just awarded the 2020 Caregiver of the Year from more than 12,000 professional caregivers across North America. The award is a testament to the hard work he puts in every day and the compassion he has for his clients and their families.
In honor of Home Care Aide Week, we spoke with Luis about his 12 years as a professional caregiver, caregiving in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, and what it takes to succeed in this industry.
Why did you decide to become a caregiver?
It’s in my DNA to take care of people. I like taking care of people. I took care of my mother and my father. When my family was sick, I took care of them. In my country, caring for people was only for women, like a nurse. Those jobs were not for men. I am so grateful to have been able to come to this country and work in this field.
How many people have you cared for in your career?
It’s difficult to say. Since my time at ComForCare I’ve cared for about 35 clients, but I worked for many people for the five years before that. One year I took care of 12 clients, but in other years I took care of one person full time. If I had to take a guess I would say close to 50 or 60 people.
What is it like to be a caregiver during COVID?
You have to be more careful than usual. You just never know. This virus is invisible. I take all the precautions with my clients — wearing my mask, washing my hands often, keeping my distance as best I can, but I am caring for him so I have to be close. I think about COVID but I don’t let it stop me from giving him the best care I can give him. I am there to make his life easy. I don’t feel afraid but I feel I have to take the precautions.
Have you seen any negative effects on your clients because of COVID?
I’ve noticed they are feeling scared. They don’t want to go out and go shopping. Clients in assisted living and memory care facilities have to quarantine, they don’t go to the dining room, they have to eat in their rooms, no activities. They are very lonely.
What does it mean to receive the Caregiver of the Year award, especially in a difficult year as 2020?
I am so grateful and humbled. At first I didn’t understand why I won. I said, “It’s my job.” It took me two days to realize it was true. This award gives me more energy and more enthusiasm to do my best and do more.
What does it take to be a good caregiver?
When I am with a client, not only do I represent myself but I also represent ComForCare. I treat my clients like family. I really take care of them. I am professional. I get to know my clients and what they like and don’t like. My focus is on what my clients like. I also do more than my job responsibilities. If something needs to be fixed or repaired, and if I can, I do it. I am also so grateful for the training I’ve had so that I really understand diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We see a lot of this with our clients and understanding those diseases helps me take the best care of them.
The industry is always in need of good caregivers. What would you tell someone to encourage them to follow your career path?
You have to be patient. You have to be compassionate. You have to understand your clients. You have to do the best you can do. You have to do the right thing.
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Luis is just one of the thousands of amazing caregivers that ComForCare and At Your Side Home Care has across the country, but we’re always looking for more. If you know someone who also has caregiving in their DNA, visit open caregiving positions on our Careers page today.
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