A home care worker’s dream to make $7. per hour

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Katherine Genga, Connecticut

I have been a live-in caregiver for 20 years. I have been mentioned in my last two long-term jobs as the loving caregiver in the obituaries. To me that equals medals of honor.

This current live-in has been three years, 7/24, 168 hours a week, including Xmas and New Year's plus every other holiday. The company I work for has never, not once, thanked me for working every holiday for three years, let alone any bonus, or even a Merry Xmas. I'm obviously not here for the money. I made a promise to the family that I would stay through till the end and I mean that!

My client is 88. He is a vet, he fought for our country, and now needs to be 100% dependent on a caregiver. I can say at this point in his life I am keeping him alive. I found out everything I could about him, his likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. I cook his favorite meals every night, I do anything I can to give him comfort. The boys (three sons) are now able to enjoy time away; really enjoy it. I made sure of that over the years.

I wake up and use all my strength to get him up and out of bed, showered in clean soft clothes, and start his day every day! I have become his protecter, his best friend, his chef, his personal shower woman, his driver, his private nurse, his everything. I won't even try to take a day off because how could they know what he needs, he won't tell them, only I know.

And yes, I cry at night sometimes because no one could ever know the sacrifice I have made. To feel guilty about a day off, that's huge. They have sent a few people over the years for me to run to a doctor's appointment, but I cancel it when the first thing they ask is where the TV is and does he sleep thru the night. They don't care, so I don't leave. I hope people realize what we or what I do as a live-in. It is my life, but I wouldn't trade it for the world when I tuck him in and he snuggles up to the blanket.

My dream would be to make at least $7 an hour, that would be my dream!


Note: If you are interested in more information on wages for home care workers, these two organizations are working to address the issue: Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) and Caring Across Generations.