AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’ve heard about the labor shortages impacting several industries across Central Texas.
And now, an already taxed workforce of caregivers is feeling the hit as well.
One local home care agency says it lost nearly half of its workforce since March 2020. It’s contributing to one of the largest shortages in the industry’s history, and even as the industry rebounds, the demand is exceeding the number of available workers.
Caregivers like Margaret Barba from Synergy HomeCare create a lasting bond with their clients. When you step inside Village on the Park at Onion Creek, you can see and feel that bond between her and Clyde Hammock.
“My wife and I came here together, but my wife passed 28 days in and I’ve been here 19 months but I couldn’t be more happy, considering everything that’s happened,” Hammock said.
Barba is part of that happiness. She’s been his caregiver for about a year and already she’s become family.
“I mean look at him, he’s smiling,” Barba said.
Is it emotional?
“Yes, and as long as I get a smile and hug a thank you from any of my clients…you get a bond when you are with them and it stays,” Barba said.
That makes her job, which has become more like a calling, worth it. Barba, like many caregivers with Synergy HomeCare, serves several clients either in facilities or homes. One of the company’s offices lost about 43% of its workforce when the pandemic hit, but then the need shifted when more people started working from home.
“Our business model changed from not just elderly people, but we started to take care of children because parents were at home working,” said Julie Tyger of Synergy HomeCare in Central Austin.
Tyger says now that people are going back to work, the need is going back up. Some of their offices get several calls a day, but they still need trained workers to fill those positions — quickly.
“It’s been tough not having as many caregivers as we need,” Tyger said.
But with vaccinations lifting and restrictions easing, she sees things improving, even as the need increases.
Experts say home caregivers are one of the largest workforces because of the growing aging population.