Protect your loved one's safety
Too often in our communities, hiring a person or team of people to help ourselves or a loved one remain at home safely and with dignity can be a perilous project. How many times have we heard of people being stripped of their bank accounts, automobiles, an prized possessions? Perhaps even worse is the loss of one's personal privacy, or even in fact one's home, as caregivers and their families move in with their client's. Still, the vast majority of people would prefer to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Hiring by word of mouth often results in overwhelmed individual caregivers trying to meet the needs of more people than they can realistically care for. Many savvy families tum to a Home Care Organization (HCO), commonly referred to as a private duty agency to provide additional oversight and structure to meet the needs of their loved ones. How do you know which organizations are guided by integrity rather than purely profit? Elder care has emerged as big business and it seems so many players have entered the field . Currently there are 25 operators in Monterey County.
2016 brings with it new support for California residents employing caregivers. The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013 (AB 1217) provides structured oversight of private home care companies and care providers by establishing a new licensing program for home-care organizations that requires background checks (liveScan), basic training , and tuberculosis screening for the caregivers that they employ. In addition, the law establishes a registry run by the Department of Social Services (DSS) that enables consumers to verify that the caregiver working in their home has passed a background check. The regulations focus on non-skilled home care services, referred to as ' private duty" or 'companion" caregivers because they are paid privately by patients or their families without the need for physician orders or nurse oversight. Private duty services commonly provide in-home care services to aid seniors and others with basic living tasks, including grooming , dressing, bathing, meal preparation, and other acts of daily living. Previously non-medical home care organizations (HCOs) have not been regulated and caregivers have been providing services with, often, none to minimal oversight or regulation, drawing criticism from senior advocates. The regulations establish new requirements for private duty services, including licensure of HCOs by the Department of Social Services (OSS) and compliance with operational requirements, including ensuring that all employed home care aides (HCAs) are registered with DSS and report incidents of suspected elder abuse.
I would urge anyone using or looking into using caregiver services to make sure that you are receiving the full benefits of the new legislation. A properly functioning agency must have filed documentation with the State of Califomia prior to the end of 2015.
Providers not in compliance face the possibility of being required to cease operations without notice. Fully functional HCOs ensure the basic competence and integrity of their staff, provide protection for replacement staffing in times of illness or caregiver crisis, and ensure compliance with labor laws - including overtime and minimum wage considerations as well as payment for Sick Leave as required in 2015 by all state employers. Licensed HCOs also provide Worker's Compensation for work related injuries, and maintain a dishonesty bond to cover unforeseeable employee transgressions, At the very least insist that your caregiver is appropriately registered on the Home Care Aide Registry and has passed a LiveScan background assessment.
The decision to allow individuals into your home to assist you to remain there as long as you desire has become a bit easier as the critical questions have changed; 1. Am I hiring a licensed HCO that will be there to protect me and my heirs from legal ramifications and support my needs with fully screened and supervised staff? 2. What are the qualifications of the owner/operator and what is their commitment and relevant experience to meeting my needs? 3. Am I utilizing a local service or a franchise? The answers to these questions going forward supersede the previously recommended questions of 'licensed, bonded, insured?" and even How much?".
Ruth Anne Danbom RN , MS, FNP
Owner, Abundant Personal Care Services