People receiving care at home often find health aides through home health agencies in their area. For some time, many of these agencies and workers have gone largely unregulated in most states. California passed a law this week to enact stricter regulations regarding licensing and employees of home health agencies.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013 into law on Sunday. Home health agencies are now facing stricter regulations in terms of hiring and monitoring their employees. Once the law takes effect, agencies will be required to conduct background checks on all workers, provide 5 hours of training to each employee, list all health aides in an online registry, and obtain a license certifying that the business meets the basic standards of compliance.
These requirements are intended to help reduce the prevalence of criminals working in these home health care environments, an issue reported in a 2011 study focused on elder abuse doled out by caregivers. Despite the findings of this report, the New York Times reports that home health agencies opposed the mandated background checks and training. The legislation made it through, however, and will take effect in January 2016.
As more people turn to home health aides for custodial care, ensuring these workers have no criminal histories and are qualified to work in a care setting becomes even more important. The impending influx of Baby Boomers on the long term care system will necessitate more health workers and verifying the credentials of those workers may help avoid potential elder abuse situations. October is designated Residents’ Rights Month across the nation, and long term care providers and organizations all over are joining in the movement to encourage long term care residents to speak out against elder abuse.
The lack of home health agency regulation across the country alarms many because these workers are tasked with caring for society’s most vulnerable: those who are unable to care for themselves, and many who are unable to speak up. Additionally, because many of these caregivers are left alone with long term care patients for long periods of time, background checks provide families and loved ones with peace of mind.
The Cost of Care
Long term care provided by home health agencies, while typically the cheapest option, is still quite pricey to add into your budget without some major adjustments. In California, a licensed home health aide service costs more than $52,000 a year, which is more than $8,000 above the national average. These costs can quickly take a toll on retirement savings, so incorporating these costs into your retirement plan can help you save money later in life.
Long term care coverage provides people with the assurance that should they need care, they won’t be forced to exhaust their assets or figure everything out on their own. Most good long term care policies also provide a service called Care Coordination, which provides a designated Care Coordinator who helps the claimant choose a facility or agency. This service can provide immeasurable help to those who are unaware of where to look or what types of things to look for in a care setting. Read more about the benefits of long term care coverage or request more information about policies.