by Amelia Baranchea
I hope that after you read my story, you will get a clearer idea of what caregivers like me have to endure just to earn a living.
My name is Amelia Bernachea, and I have been a care provider since 1992. Since becoming a Certified Nursing Aide in 1997, I’ve worked in a convalescent hospital and have done one-on-one patient service. I deal with different kinds of patients with varying needs—from ambulatory to bedridden, some of them requiring specialized care.
One of my patients has Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, the patient becomes harder to handle. Their needs and demand increase, and I barely have enough time to sleep.
For only $70 per day, I feed my patients three times a day, administer medicine after every meal, change diapers every two-three hours or whenever necessary, cook, wash dishes, do laundry, water the flower garden and perform other household chores.
I get no overtime pay, no rest breaks and no meal breaks.
Despite all of this, I try to muster up the strength to keep going, to remain calm, understanding and to provide the best care for my patients. It’s not an easy task, but I have to endure it all to support my family financially.
Caregivers deserve to be recognized and protected for doing their job. Our work is not as simple and trouble-free as it may seem. We deserve as much respect as any other profession. It is about time that legislators support and approve AB241, the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, so that all caregivers will have respect and dignity in their work. It is the best way to return the care and love we so selflessly provide.
Now that you know my story, I hope that the next time you see a caregiver accompanying an elderly person, you think of the difficult work they must endure without any protections from the law. I hope you will be able to see them in a different light. Please urge Governor Brown to protect workers like me.