Sweeping New Home Care Consumer Protection Law Takes Effect
The standards in this law are ultimately a good thing for those who rely on home care workers, but only if they utilize licensed home care companies to obtain that help. If you or a loved one live in the San Fernando Valley and depend on such services in the home, you may be interested in exploring the basic components of this new law.
Primary Objective and Background
As discussed in Version One of the Written Directives of this law, the main objective behind its creation is to maximize consumer protection for those who are disabled or elderly and who receive professional home care assistance. These tighter requirements are intended to protect those who are vulnerable.
Holding both home care companies and home care workers accountable to these requirements is one way used in the new law to achieve that objective. The law also requires the state to create an online statewide registry so that clients may check the licensing status of the workers that licensed home care companies send to help them.
Many (but not all) companies must obtain a new state license via the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) if they provide non-medical care in the home. Such companies must also hire only home care aides who have been properly background-checked by the state. Employees who work via these companies must also be individually registered in accordance with the new law. Workers must also undergo specific training in order to understand and follow the new regulations.
Who Must Be Registered/Licensed
The new law pertains particularly to those who provide non-medical home care services. Such services include housekeeping, the planning and preparation of meals, shopping for specific items (such as groceries and personal care products), attending to laundry, executing correspondence, making telephone calls, and providing transportation. Other non-medical services under the law include assistance with bathing, dressing, incontinence and other toileting issues, personal grooming and other hygiene-related activities, exercising, transferring, positioning, and ambulating.
The new law refers to the workers who provide those services as “Home Care Aides”.
The new law requires that companies that are the EMPLOYER of Home Care Aides must be licensed to provide those employees to provide Home Care Aide services to clients. It refers to those companies as Home Care Organizations.
The new law mandates very specific, tough requirements for companies to become licensed Home Care Organizations. It also requires the state to periodically perform surprise on-site inspections (audits) to make sure that licensed Home Care Organizations are following the requirements of the new law.
The new law specifically does not require nor allow companies to be licensed if those companies are NOT the employer of Home Care Aides. Those types of companies are often referred to as registries or referral agencies. It is important to note that those types of companies are NOT ALLOWED to be licensed as Home Care Organizations.
The new law also does not require licensed home health care agencies (companies that provide skilled nursing or other medical services) to be licensed as Home Care Organizations, even if they are the employer of the home care workers that they send to assist clients in the clients’ homes. However, licensed home health care agencies may choose to apply for licensure as licensed Home Care Organizations if they follow all the requirements for licensing under the new law; they might choose to do so, for the sake of being able to do business as licensed Home Care Organizations.
Accredited Home Care is licensed both as a Home Health Care Agency and as a Home Care Organization in the San Fernando Valley.
Summary Of Who Must Be Registered/Licensed
- Registered Home Care Aides who provide non-medical, “private duty” services must be listed in a statewide registry made available online, if they are sent to work in clients’ homes by a company that is their employer. There is a registration fee and they must undergo a fingerprint-based criminal background check. They also must have TB clearance and undergo state-mandated training every year.
- Licensed Home Care Organizations must obtain official licensing via CDSS. Their owners and office staff must meet the same background-checking and TB clearance criteria as the Home Care Aides.
Who Is Exempt From Licensing
For home care workers: If they are not employed by a Home Care Organization, they do not have to be registered and background-checked. They have an option to be individually registered if they wish to do so, but they are not required to do so.
For organizations: they are not required to adhere to the licensing regulation if they are not considered to be Home Care Organizations under the new law. These exempt organizations include health facilities, county service providers, employment agencies, residential care facilities that cater to needs of the elderly, retirement communities that provide continuing care, hospice agencies, and licensed home health care agencies (as mentioned in more detail above).
What to Look Out for When Considering Home Care Services
Because so many companies and individual workers are exempt under the new law, those who need to obtain the help of home care workers must be careful about whom they choose to utilize. Hiring privately or obtaining workers from a company that is not a licensed Home Care Organization could serve to defeat the purpose of the law altogether.
Registries, referral agencies and other non-employer organizations that do not actually employ aides – but simply help them find work – are not required to be licensed and the home care workers that they send you are not required to be background checked, TB-tested and registered.
The best course of action for a person who requires home care in the San Fernando Valley is to obtain home care services only from a company that is licensed. Hiring an individual home care aide – whether privately or via a provider that does not require licensing – does not ensure protection against bad acts or negligence. This is the kind of protection that every home care client deserves.
Photo by Justin Brockie