New Yorkers are without aides and face burnout during home care crisis

Invisible Army: Caregivers on the Front Line: Part of an occasional series supported by the Solutions Journalism Network

It’s 7 a.m., and Keith Gurgui makes sure he’s awake so his home health aide can help bathe and clothe him, and then lift him out of bed and into his wheelchair before they have to leave for the day. 

A diving accident in 2009 left Gurgui, 30, paralyzed from the shoulders down. He needs 24/7 assistance, but he’ll spend the next 12 hours without an aide, because he can’t find anyone to fill the shift. This is a regular occurrence for Gurgui, as aides quit, call out sick or, as happened recently, are barred from working overtime by their agencies.

Right now, he’s got about 20 open hours of care a week. He’s hoping to find another aide to cover those soon. 

Keith Gurgui works on his computer using a camera mouse at his home in Lake Katrine, NY on Monday, March 28, 2022. Keith had an accident in 2009 that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down; he's advocating for better wages for home caregivers.

“There’s no pool of people to pull from now,” said Gurgui, who lives with his parents in his family home in Lake Katrine, outside of Kingston. In recent years, Linda and Richard Gurgui, both nurses, either retired or went down to part-time work so they could help care for their son. 

Solutions Journalism: Home care crisis leaves New Yorkers without aides and families face burnout