Always Best Care – South Bay in Full Compliance with Consumer Protection Act of 2013
By Mark Wecker, Community Liaison
The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013, which became effective on January 1, 2016, was intended to promote consumer protection for elderly and disabled individuals who hire private aides to come into their homes to assist with everyday activities, such as transferring, toileting, bathing, and dressing. The law for the first time provides for the licensure and regulation of non-medical Home Care Organizations (HCOs) and requires registration of Home Care Aides (HCAs) with the California Department of Social Services (DSS). For the last six months, Always Best Care – South Bay has been planning to meet all of our legal obligations under the new law. The agency is proud to report that as of January 1, 2016, we are in full compliance with all regulations established by The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act, which are detailed in the following paragraphs.
Prior to the adoption of AB 1217, California did not regulate the home care industry, leaving consumers at risk of being harmed by caregivers with criminal backgrounds. In fact, a 2011 report titled, “Caregiver Roulette: California Fails to Screen those who Care for the Elderly at Home,” by John Hill for the California Senate Health Committee, estimated that more than 25% of caregivers had committed previous offenses. This finding underscored the importance of background screening. However, the report concluded that, while many home care agencies claimed to conduct background checks, in reality such checks ranged from “a thorough screening required for certification by a state association to a $19.95 instant Internet check that experts say yields almost nothing of value.”
Now the law requires Home Care Organizations (excluding hospice agencies, home health agencies, health facilities, and employment agencies) to obtain a license from the DSS before arranging for the provision of in-home care services by a registered Home Care Aide. In addition, HCOs are required to provide five hours of annual training to Home Care Aides, including two hours of orientation on the role as caregiver and three hours of safety training. The law requires that HCOs carry liability insurance and submit proof that their aides have workers’ compensation coverage and a dishonesty bond. Finally, the law makes HCOs responsible for reporting any suspected or known elder abuse.
Home Care Aides that are employed by a licensed agency are required to complete a Live Scan electronic fingerprint and background examination and register with the DSS as an affiliated aide. Independent aides that are hired directly by clients may choose to participate in the registry as well. Finally, registered HCAs must demonstrate that they are free of active tuberculosis by completing a test 90 days prior to employment or within seven days after employment.
The DSS is authorized to maintain and update an online registry of HCAs that includes the aide’s name, registration number, registration status, registration expiration date, and the agency with which they are affiliated, if applicable. It also has the authority to investigate complaints, conduct inspections of HCOs, and determine if a HCO is in compliance with the law.
While the law is an important step toward regulating the home care industry, it is not without its shortcomings. Specifically:
- Independent Home Care Aides who are hired directly by a client are not required to participate in the online registry, which means no Live Scan or TB clearance.
- Independent Home Care Aides are not required to carry liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance or dishonesty bond.
- Domestic Referral Agencies (DRAs, also known as “employment agencies”), which refer independent contractors to home care settings, are excluded from the law.
Taken together, these exclusions potentially expose consumers to financial and physical harm at the hands of Home Care Aides who are not subject to oversight, whose work authorization may be questionable, who have little or no training, and who lack insurance protection in the event they cause damage or suffer a workplace injury. Therefore, it is just as essential today that consumers exercise caution when hiring an unregistered, independent aide, or when doing business with agencies that do not provide ongoing training, supervision or insurance coverage of the aides they refer.
Always Best Care – South Bay is pleased to report that we are in full compliance with AB 1217. Here’s how:
- Completed license application was submitted to the DSS by the January 1, 2016 deadline
- We provide our caregivers with 5 hours of annual training; new hires complete 5 hours of training prior to being placed in a client’s home. Training includes modules on elder abuse, safety instruction, emergency preparedness, privacy provisions, and our evidence based dementia skills coaching
- Caregivers affiliated with Always Best Care South Bay are our employees, covered by worker’s compensation insurance and an employee dishonesty bond, have completed a LiveScan electronic fingerprint and background examination, and have passed a TB screening.
For more information on AB 1217 or our programs and services, call us anytime at (310) 792-8666 or visit our website at www.AlwaysBestHomeCare.com.