Two months after receiving BrightStar Care’s regional West Caregiver of the Year award, Santa Barbara caregiver Rafael Benavides has won BrightStar’s National Caregiver Award for putting forth exceptional empathy and patience with his client.
The Chile native was nominated for the national award by his client’s spouse, Laddi, who credited Mr. Benavides for improving his wife’s quality of life.
He eliminated any falls and hospitalizations for his client, Cathy, since he began working with her, along with improving her attitude and outlook on life.
Cathy has significant medical problems, including a number of physical disabilities, Addison’s disease and multiple personality disorder. In 2018, Cathy had multiple falls and eight hospitalizations.
Before Mr. Benavides came along, Cathy missed a lot of her medications and didn’t understand why she had to do certain things to stay healthy.
Four different caregiver organizations with a dozen caregivers fired her as a client.
“Rafael stood up to that challenge and was not willing to give up on Cathy,” Laddi said in his nomination video for Mr. Benavides. “He provides a lot of security for Cathy. She knows that he’s going to be there for her.”
In a previous interview with the News-Press, the award-winning caregiver said that his style of care focuses on going further than just providing the basic medical care. He makes sure to stay an extra few minutes and make his patient laugh before he leaves.
“What makes Rafael special as a caregiver is his ability to put a smile on your face amidst often difficult situations,” said Sharon Perez, the owner and director of BrightStar Care Santa Barbara. “One of the things that distinguishes Rafael is his gentle but firm approach to Cathy. He still has ups and downs, but ultimately, her quality of life has improved.”
Starting out with Cathy after she had gone through several caregivers prior to him wasn’t easy at first.
“It was very difficult, it was very difficult. But I think the most important thing is that you need the trust,” Mr. Benavides said. “I love what I do. I do it with my heart. One of my favorite things is to help and see the result.”
Mr. Benavides was the first caregiver from California to win the West Caregiver of the Year award in eight years. Not only does he drive Cathy to and from all her doctor’s appointments, but he also transports her to nail appointments, Starbucks, and makes her dinner.
“Serving with passion… You can’t teach that,” Ms. Perez said. “It’s something that’s there and Rafael embodies that passion.”
Cathy herself was also featured in the video, saying, “It (Rafael’s care) makes me feel more whole as a person.”
Mr. Benavides, who started working as a nurse about five years ago, said he gives his patients the care he hopes to receive as he grows older.
When the caregiver isn’t working with Cathy, he fills in for nurses at other medical facilities, taking care of anywhere between 80 to 100 patients at once. When he’s not working at all, he enjoys quality family time and riding his motorcycle.
“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.
BrightStar Care honors one employee annually for going above and beyond to deliver high-quality care.
As BrightStar Care’s national winner, Mr. Benavides will receive a $5,000 scholarship to continue his education.
The Chicago-based company is a national private duty home care and medical staffing franchise with nearly 340 locations. Employees provide medical and non-medical services to clients at their homes, and supplemental care staff to corporate clients.
More than 20,000 caregivers are employed at BrightStar Care, and 3,500 nurses oversee the care for each client.
It’s the only national home care franchise to receive The Joint Commission’s Enterprise Champion for Quality award every year since the award’s inception.
To learn more, visit brightstarcare.com/santa-barbara.