Caregiver of the Month: Roberta G. Embraces a Family Tradition
Caregiving is more than a calling for Roberta Gonzales — it’s in her blood. Roberta’s mother was an in-home caregiver and she instilled this passion for caring in her daughter. Providing in-home care services for people, especially the elderly, reminds Roberta of her grandparents and the caregiving environment she grew up with.
Roberta was born in Nicaragua but has been in California for most of her life. She started her caregiving career when she was still in high school. She completed her Certified Nurse Assistant certificate at 18 years old and began working in Mill Valley. She took a break from her career when she had children and had a goal to become a nurse. After completing two semesters of nursing school, she realized that it was a bit too much while being a full-time mom. However, Roberta doesn’t see this as a bad thing, because the experience led her back to caregiving and rekindled her love for that vocation.
She worked in the ER at San Mateo General Hospital for two years, but missed the personal 1-on-1 aspect of caregiving. She didn’t just want to work in healthcare; she wanted to work in a field that fostered connection and empathy.
It’s a Family Affair with Alegre Home Care
Roberta eventually followed in her mother’s footsteps and got hired by the same person her mother had worked with for many years — Charles Symes, the CEO and Founder of Alegre Home Care. She grew up watching her mother have a fulfilling caregiving career alongside Charles. Roberta likes to joke, “Everywhere he goes, I go!”
She believes that things like this happen for a reason and these kinds of coincidences often show up in her caregiving experiences. For instance, she has a client who used to take care of a handicapped neighbor named Roberta, and now she is receiving in-home care services from a caregiver named Roberta. For Roberta’s client, the cycle of caregiving has gone full circle.
Roberta’s coworkers explain, “The clients and their family members love her. They say great things about her all the time. One of her clients remained on the top floor in her home for several years and was not able to come downstairs until Roberta started working with her. The family was so amazed to see her back downstairs.”
Providing High Quality In-Home Care Services
Roberta always makes sure to bring her bubbly self and she sees the difference it makes in helping her clients live a happier life. Her personality brings their personalities out, in the best ways possible. Roberta finds this very rewarding because she makes a difference and can see the results. The happiness of clients is a huge priority and she goes the extra mile to make it happen. For instance, she loves to cook and learns all of her clients favorite recipes so that they can enjoy the meals they love the most. This is a big win for Roberta because she also wanted to become a chef. Now she is her clients’ private chef! She gets to combine two of her passions into one.
Sometimes, the results she sees with her in-home care clients are nothing short of a miracle. Roberta has one client who could barely make it from her chair to her bed when Roberta began working with her. Within one year, the client has made a dramatic shift and can now make it down the stairs. The client’s dementia symptoms have even improved and she can now have conversations with people and remember things she used to be unable to recall. She tells Roberta she misses her when there are days between caregiving sessions.
Roberta loves getting to know her clients’ personalities and it’s one of her favorite parts of caregiving. She’s discovered that so many of her clients have shining personalities and that they just need to be given the opportunity to let their personalities shine through. Sometimes this means making people feel comfortable even when they are in pain, so that they can forget about their pain or their bad day for a minute and focus instead on the things that bring them joy.
Roberta feels like it is an honor to share these experiences with her clients. “You are a guest in their home and life,” she explains. “I get the opportunity to help and the client and their loved ones give me their trust. It’s truly an honor.”