NewsCovering Colorado


Jobs as Home Health Personal Care Aides are increasing and caregivers say the job is very rewarding

Home Health Care
Posted at 8:33 PM, Sep 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-01 22:33:23-04

EL PASO COUNTY, CO — More people in the Pikes Peak region are becoming home health personal care aides.

According to data from the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, home health and personal care aide is the fastest-growing occupation that does not require a college degree. The occupation has increased by 7% since 2022.

Akota Home Care provides caregiving services to many cities across the United States and has an office in Colorado Springs. Jim Lindsay is the President and CEO of Akota Home Care.

Lindsay said more people are becoming caregivers because there is a high demand in the region.

“The reasons for the growth are priority driven by demographics. Starting in 2012 over 10,000 people per day started turning 65. It's that baby boomer generation moving into retirement so there is a great need for caregivers to take care of those folks,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey said caregiving is an appealing job because it's extraordinarily fun and it's hard work.

“Home care is still demanding but you are one-on-one with the person in their home, it's very fulfilling, very relational and you get to know the person. That's what makes it fun,” Lindsey said.

More people need quality caregivers. It was not Melissa Tafoya's plan to become a caregiver, but now she wishes she had done it sooner.

"I actually have a theater degree and thought I was going to do that, but instead I got into a car accident," said Tafoya.

After she recovered she began working at a program assisting people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

"I thought it was super cool, I got to do arts and crafts, visit with them and do events with them. When I did that I found a whole new life. I love helping people," Tafoya said.

Tafoya then began her career as a companion caregiver. As a companion, Tafoya would cook, clean, and spend time with her client.

Tafoya fell in love with caregiving but wanted to do more, so she got her certified nursing assistant certification. Lindsay said Atoka will help pay for half of the tuition for companions who want to get their CNA certification. After being a companion for one year, Tafoya took a two-week intensive course, passed the exam, and got her CNA.

To become a CNA people must take classes, pass an exam, and get clinical training. Many CNA programs include the clinical training portion through their courses. CNAs are similar to personal care aids, but they monitor general health like taking vital signs and blood sugar levels.

“It is a lot of observing and also to make sure everything is reported so the family can go to the doctor and show them everything that is going on in mom or dad's life,” Tafoya said.

Tafoya said CNAs do not give IVs or do anything that requires puncturing of the skin. She thinks more caregivers are needed because more individuals would rather live in their own homes than move to an assisted living center.

“I had a client who fought tooth and nail to stay in his home and his family wanted that for him too,” Tafoya said.

Tafoya said it is also because people enjoy the one-on-one personal care they get from a caregiver. She said the aging process is a decrease of independence.

"The benefit is that you don't have people, rushing you," Tafoya said. "You get to take them time to get up, take your time eating your breakfast, take a shower when you want to. Their is no strict regiment of living, you just get to live," Tafoya said.

Being a CNA and working with her clients is very rewarding and inspiring for Tafoya. Tafoya mentioned a unique part of her job is working with the families.

"I get to help not only my clients but their family, I get to make a daughter feel like their daughter again. I get to see that relationship, I can cook and clean and their daughter can sit there and actually enjoy mom. They can sit down and actually talk about their day" Tafoya said.

People do not have to be a CNA or have a degree to be a caregiver. Shauntaul Gates has been a personal care aide for over six years and has worked as a caregiver with the company Visiting Angels for nearly 2 years.

“Sometimes you're just there to listen to them talk and enjoy their stories,” Gates said.

Gates said she realized caregiving was her passion, early on in her life.

“My mother had brain cancer when i was a very young age and basically we took care of her and ever since then i just enjoyed doing what i did and I love helping others,” Gates said.

Personal care aides assist people at their homes.

“We help with dressing, showers, every now and then, also cooking, if you're an amazing cook,” Gates said.

Gates said there are not many requirements for personal care aids, but a positive attitude and a good smile are needed.

“Really just have a great heart for caring with someone,” Gates said. “Having a high school diploma or a GED would also help you get a job,” Gates said.

Gates did go through some training to help her with basic caregiving skills.

“All I really needed to know was how to change a person and how to help shower a person,” Gates said.

Like Tafoya, Gates said her clients have become a part of her family. She encourages others to look into jobs within caregiving. She said with the right attitude, people can be a really good caregiver.

“If you are an open-hearted and caring person, caregiving is for you, you can care for multiple people, you can say you actually played a part in those people's lives,” Gates said.

Both Tafoya and Gates said working with their clients and families makes their day and careers in caregiving very meaningful.

Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.