Through interviews and original photography, PHI is working with direct care workers nationwide to document their stories and share their ideas for transforming jobs in long-term care. This interview is with Ricardo Araujo, a Home Health Aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) in the Bronx, NY. He has been a direct care worker for two and a half years.
ON WHY HE DECIDED TO BECOME A HOME HEALTH AIDE
“I love helping people. I used to work as a security guard and was looking for a new job. Now working as a home health aide, my job is about more than just getting a paycheck every week. My sister uses a wheelchair, so I had experience helping her get around to meet her needs. I came to CHCA knowing how to take care of others, but now I have also learned how to help people outside my family, especially people who live without family members. It is work, but I get to do something I enjoy.”
ON WHAT HE FINDS MOST CHALLENGING IN HIS ROLE
“I have a client who was used to being cared for by females and did not want a male home health aide. He had a hard time with me in the beginning, with a man he didn’t know coming into his home. I needed to win him over, or I was going to be replaced. That was a challenge at first, but thankfully I was able to make him comfortable with me. I would tell him, ‘Yes, sir, anything you need, I will be right here and can do it for you.’ It was an adjustment for him, but now he trusts me. He just needed a chance to get to know me better.”
“I just remember to do my job and to always be patient and understanding.”
ON WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED IN HIS JOB
“You need a whole lot of patience to do this job. You don’t know what kind of day your clients are going to have, or what you are going to be dealing with. All clients are different. You could get willing, welcoming clients, or ones that will just close the door to you. Whatever comes up, no matter how you feel in that moment, you can’t take anything personally. Sometimes my clients can be grumpy, but I’m pretty sure I would act the same way if I had to stay in bed and needed help moving. I just remember to do my job and to always be patient and understanding. I am there to care for my clients and that is the most important thing.”
Photography: Kristen Blush
The Direct Care Worker Story Project aims to enhance the visibility of this workforce, amplify its voices, and draw on workers’ unique wisdom to inform policy and practice. The Project seeks to address the lack of representation of direct care workers in public narratives and ensure images used to depict long-term care work are grounded in workers’ and clients’ real experiences. If you’re interested in sharing your story as a direct care worker, please email us at info@PHInational.org.