California Domestic Workers Coalition

“Before, I was intimidated, but when I became a member of FAJ, I learned about my rights. I learned I have a choice. I always tell the workers, ‘do not be afraid.’”

My name is Joyce Estor and I was a caregiver/homecare worker for 20 years and now I’m a volunteer caregiver. I am from the Philippines. Most of the time I support elderly people in their homes who have dementia. I’ve had lots of training on dementia, nutrition, body mechanics, and how to address caregiver burnout

Years back I had a client with dementia. Because of his condition he was very unsteady. I had to constantly hold his gait belt to prevent him from falling. One time, he could not come out of the bathroom so  I put the walker inside to prevent a fall. If he fell on me I would have been injured and I wouldn’t be able to lift him up – he’s a big man. I was also supporting his wife who had injured her kneecap. I realized it would be unsafe to take care of them both. I ended up leaving and letting somebody else take care of the couple. 

Photo by Joe Ramos

Another time I took care of a man who was quadriplegic. He had had a motorcycle accident. We used a high tech hoyer lift, all mechanized. But he was very heavy, 300 pounds. I had to put a net under his bottom to lift him up. It was always bed to wheelchair every two hours so he could lay down and rest his back. He also had to exercise every two hours and I would have to monitor his fluids. It was very difficult and I finally left.  

When I joined FAJ, I didn’t know that I had rights – it felt too good to be true. I asked myself, “Why am I living in fear?”  Now, I volunteer as a caregiver and I support working caregivers. I offer them information about health and safety. I tell them about their rights. I tell them if they cannot do the task, like lift a heavy person, or if there is no hoyer lift, then don’t do it, to prevent injuries for everyone. I tell them to get involved, learn their rights. Do not be afraid.