TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Right now, there are dozens of job openings in the Big Bend that need to be filled in the caregiving field. It is a shortage hitting communities across the country.
“It really bothers me that they’re not able to fulfill that need when they call for help,” shared Scott Harrell, owner of the Tallahassee Home Instead office.
Even before the pandemic, the demand for caregivers was climbing.
“Baby boomers are getting older,” Harrell added.
Now, caregivers who seniors depend on are leaving the field in big numbers. “It’s been tough. I think people are still a little scared because of the pandemic,” Harrell explained.
He said in March of 2020, they had more than 180 caregivers serving Gadsden, Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Leon Counties. Now they’re down to 136.
“The caregiving population being so scarce, we’ve had to put them (clients) on a one- to two-week waiting list,” Harrell said.
Fortunately, caregivers like Kathy Clark have stuck around.
“With the pandemic, you just have to find alternative ways to show that you care,” Clarke explained.
She and other staff wear masks, gloves and wash their hands frequently when taking care of clients.
“You want to try and treat someone the way you’d want to be treated,” she added.
Harrell is working to hire more compassionate people who can further the mission beyond the pandemic.
“If we could find 20 to 30 quality caregivers who could work 30 to 40 hours a week, that would be ideal,” he said. “We want people who really do want to make a difference.”
As the world slowly gets back to normal, his clients are still going to need help.
Harrell said when they can respond to a call immediately, they will refer clients to other agencies serving seniors in the Big Bend. He hopes to have his staff completely vaccinated by the end of March.