When Hiring a Home Care Agency Know the Law
Daniel R. York, Attorney at Law
When family and friends can no longer provide caregiving services at home what’s next? You may have to make the difficult decision to hire a caregiving agency, but what does a smart consumer ask? How do you find the best care for your relative? How can you check on agencies and their caregivers?
For your family’s protection, hire a company that meets the standards set forth in a recently passed law. As of January 1, 2016, the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act became effective. The law requires agencies to:
- Conduct criminal background checks on workers
- Provide an employee dishonesty bond
- Provide valid workers compensation coverage
- Carry liability insurance,
- Maintain records of suspected abuse
- Provide five hours of training
- List aides in an online registry and obtain a license certifying agency compliance
The California Department of Social Services now provides this licensing for “Home care services.” Home Care Services are nonmedical services and assistance provided by a registered home care aide to a client who, because of advanced age or physical or mental disability needs assistance with activities of daily living.
When hiring a home care agency follow these steps:
- Ask your agency for a copy of their license from the California Department of Social Services. No matter how large or small, every entity that arranges for an “Affiliated Home Care Aide” must apply for the license.
- Check “Home Care Organization” license status by calling (916) 657-3570 or check online at https://secure.dss.ca.gov/CareFacilitySearch/home/index.
- Ask your agency for the home care aide’s first and last name and their Personnel ID number. This will give you the information to verify that caregiver’s registration status.
- Check the home care aide registration status by calling the Home Care Services Bureau at 1-877-424-5778; or call Caregiver Background Check Bureau at (916) 653-1923. You can also visit https://secure.dss.ca.gov/ccld/hcsregistry/registrysearch.aspx.
An important feature of this law states that Affiliated Home Care Aides cannot be independent contractors. They must be employees of the Home Care Organization. This holds the Home Care Organization responsible for directing the actions of an Affiliated Home Care Aide, and compliance with requirements such as TB testing, training, background check and registration.
Whether you need caregivers occasionally or regularly, it’s comforting to know you can hire an agency that meets standards. Remember you only have these protections if you hire through an agency. Otherwise, the burden is on you.