Terms like “non-skilled” can make working as a caregiver sound like a job with no promise, but that isn’t the case for many who learn and grow in the home care business. There can be so many reasons a person chooses to work as a caregiver and provide both companionship and personal care as needed: the hours can be flexible, they can be making a difference in the lives of those they care for, and they enjoy working with people.
Caregivers may choose to continue working in these flexible jobs in which they interact directly with their clients one-on-one, but for some this is merely the foundation to a career in the growing health care field.
From Caregiver to Operations Manager
Robin D. Chandler, 53, had taken time off after years working as a teacher in the Peace Corps when both her husband and father needed her to care for them after being diagnosed with cancer. She then went to work as a professional caregiver and after three months showed she could take on more responsibility too.
“We are always looking to promote from within our ranks,” said Arthur Sanchez, owner of Homewatch CareGivers of North Suburban Denver.
Ms. Chandler went from caregiver to Operations Manager/Scheduler at Mr. Sanchez’s office.
“Robin has a Master’s degree in Public Administration and had a complex career in the past,” he said. “She took caregiving very seriously, was really good at communicating and was reliable.”
For her part, Ms. Chandler was startled, but pleased, to move so quickly into her new role.
“Learning the profession from the field was definitely helpful,” she said. “Working as a caregiver gave me a better understanding of what we do for our clients and how I want to be treated as a caregiver.”
Mr. Sanchez has promoted other caregivers only to see them scooped up by a competitor or move on to a new job. He said of another caregiver turned Operation Support staff, “While I was sad to lose her to a competitor I was also happy that she was making positive moves in her career. All great incentives for caregivers to excel.”
From Caregiver to Director
Joe Stefanko had a long journey from family caregiver to working for Homewatch CareGivers International. He was a caregiver for his great-grandmother from ages 12 to 16, then went on to college and became an elementary school teacher. When he left teaching, he found work as a professional caregiver in 1994 where his work focused on people living with developmental disabilities. Within five years he became the manager of a home care company until he left to work at a county facility. When Homewatch CareGivers of Columbus, Ohio opened, Mr. Stefanko started as Chief Administrator and continued also working as a caregiver until 2008 when he was hired to work for the franchisor, Homewatch CareGivers International, in Denver, CO.
“Being a caregiver, then a manager and now a Director of Franchise Operations has allowed me to understand the challenges each person faces daily when it comes to completing their jobs,” he said.
For those looking to take their caregiving job to the next level, Mr. Stefanko offers this advice:
“Take every opportunity to learn different aspects of the business that interests you. One thing my grandfather said to me upon graduation from college is that the world is about who you know; what you know will only help if you know the right people. I have taken that quote to make sure that my work time and my free time have always allowed me to meet new people, get to know them and determine how I can be beneficial to them and how they may be able to help me--both in my learning and sometimes in my career. It has amazed me how getting to know someone through a work situation has led to other opportunities to utilize their knowledge or status to accomplish other things. For example, I met my congresswoman through the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) day on Capitol Hill. This opportunity allowed me to understand her perspective on home care for the elderly and caregiving. Then during a volunteer opportunity, I was able to secure her as a speaker for another group to show that the city of Columbus supported this cause.”
Mr. Stefanko and Ms. Chandler are just two of the many examples of people who went from family caregiving to professional caregiving to a full-time career in the home care industry. Caregiving not only allows someone to make a difference in the lives of those that they care for, but also in their own lives and professions.
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