For nearly 30 years, Lois Gidaro has worked as a certified home health aide for Family & Children’s Service (FCS), caring for clients who sometimes have no one else to care for them. Lois is one of more than 80 FCS certified home health aides and supportive care aides who provide care to nearly 220 clients throughout Monmouth County. Lois spoke with us during National Home Care Aide Week about her lifelong career choice to be a caregiver.
You first started doing home care in 1980 out of necessity when a family member took ill and you began to care for him. What made you stay with it for so long?
Some people are just caregivers at heart, I guess. At the time I thought, if I can do this for this person, I can do this for anyone, so I did. I began working as an aide on my own at first. Later, in 1986, I received my certified home health care training through Family & Children’s Service. That opened up a lot of doors for me.
My training prepared me for caring for all different types of people; people with dementia and Alzheimers, people with physical disabilities, you name it. I was able to take on more clients. I learned how to properly and safely give a client a bed bath, change sheets with a client still in the bed and even handle a client with infectious disease. And I receive new training every year to maintain my certification.
What type of services do you provide for your clients?
I help my clients with whatever they may need. I may cook for them. Feed them. Help them bathe or dress. Sometimes I just sit there and talk to them.
Are many of your clients living alone?
Yes. It’s so sad. They have no one. They just want someone who will listen to them, keep them company. I try to bring a little bit of brightness into their day, and I say a little because I know there is so much suffering in their lives. If I can’t do that, at least I try to make them comfortable, keep them warm, and fed and safe.
Outside of the professional training, what qualities do you think you need to be a home Certified Home Health Aide?
You have to care about people. And you have to have Patience. Lots of patience!
Because often you are dealing with clients who have dementia or mental illness and they don’t always do what is proper or safe. You have to be able to be flexible, to listen to their wants or needs. They want to be independent. It’s important for them to know that you are there to support them, that you always have their back.
You also work for FCS Home Care as a Client Services Representative, coordinating schedules and making sure client’s needs are met. Doesn’t that make for a long day?
Sometimes I may put in a 10 or 12 hour day, but that doesn’t bother me. I feel like I am good at what I do, and that I am helping people. Having this job and seeing what our clients go through makes me thankful for the blessings in my life everyday. I don’t have a lot of money or other resources to give back, but I do have a lot of me to give. And that’s what I do. I give me.
Do you have any advice to offer someone considering becoming a certified home health aide?
Don’t do it for the money. You’re never going to get rich being a home health aide, except in your heart. Your heart will grow rich. And maybe there will be a little extra space for you in heaven when it’s all done.