During a surprise reveal Thursday at BrightStar Care Santa Barbara’s office, local caregiver Rafael Benavides was awarded the regional West Caregiver of the Year award.
Nominated by his client’s spouse for making a significant difference in his client’s life, Mr. Benavides was selected out of hundreds of nominees for the award. It marks the first time in eight years that a caregiver from California won the prestigious award.
Originally from Chile, Mr. Benavides told the News-Press his style of care focuses on going further than just providing the basic medical care that is required. He is always willing to stay an extra few minutes to ensure his patient isn’t just healthy, but also happy and laughing before he leaves.
After taking on his new patient who had several previous caregivers, Mr. Benavides said he worked diligently to gain her trust.
“It was very difficult, it was very difficult. But I think the most important thing is that you need the trust,” Mr. Benavides said. “She has her ups and downs but I am very happy.”
Once he finally did gain his patients’ trust, he said he has now been able to give her more independence than she had before and that he spends everyday making sure she is completely taken care of.
“He’s also her nurse, but we’re kinda focusing on the extra things that he does as her caregiver,” said Sharon Perez, owner and director of operations of BrightStar Care Santa Barbara.
Mrs. Perez told the News-Press Mr. Benavides has now become his patients lifeline and he is the only person that she trusts with driving her to and from all her different doctors appointments. On top of that, Mrs. Perez said Mr. Benavides provides his patient transport to nail appointments, Starbucks, and also makes her dinner.
“It’s above and beyond what you were asked to do,” Mrs. Perez said. “So we’re happy to be able to celebrate this as a whole team.”
Normally, after receiving the award, winners are flown to the BrightStar owners convention in Dallas where they are presented in front of a national audience. However, because of COVID-19 Mrs. Perez said this year’s owners convention will be done virtually.
With the virtual ceremony, a film crew will be coming next week to follow Mr. Benavides and his patient around for a whole day. The footage will be used to nominate him for BrightStar’s National Caregiver of the year award.
“I feel to myself when I do something right, when I produce positive changes, I feel like I’m doing my job,” Mr. Benavides said.
For more information visit brightstarcare.com/santa-barbara.