By BEN ADEL | Special to the Palisadian-Post
The care you help secure for that special senior parent or loved one in your life matters so much. Getting specific with choosing the type of home care and home health services means investigating home care agencies and other caregiving options.
But which qualifications should professional caregivers have?
Identifying the credentials, affiliations and backgrounds of these most important individuals and companies is a step that should not be skipped.
California Law Requires Home Care Organizations to be Licensed
In 2016, the state of California established the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act, which requires home care organizations to be licensed by the Home Care Services Bureau (HCSB). In order to be licensed, home care providers must take on the required staff, including administrators, nursing supervisors and similar.
Officials from the state of California will then visit the business location for a formal review and license inspection. In addition to processing applications, the HCSB receives and responds to complaints and conducts unannounced compliance visits.
For the safety of your loved one, do not do business with any organization that cannot provide proof of current licensing.
Background Checks Are Essential
Granting a new caregiver access to your home is a serious matter and requires due diligence to establish both comfort and safety. The state of California also requires all home care aides to be background checked through a live scan, all for the purpose of protecting elderly and disabled individuals who hire aides in their homes. The HCSB has created a public online registry for home care aides who have been background checked.
The Importance of Medicare Certification and Approval
Medicare becomes an important factor in paying for home health services, but beyond that, Medicare provides an opportunity for organizations and businesses to become certified and approved for Medicare-covered treatment.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has established criteria for home health providers to become “Medicare-certified” that includes the following:
- Focus is providing skilled nursing services and other therapeutic services
- Policies established by at least one physician and one nurse who will govern those services
- A registered professional nurse will supervise services
- Clinical records on all patients are maintained
- Licensed by the state of California
- Has a plan and budget in place
- Meets all federal requirements
Hiring an Employee vs. an Independent Caregiver
While it might seem like an attractive prospect to hire a private caregiver who operates as an independent contractor, it’s important to know what you may be getting into. If you’re accepting caregiving services that exceed $2,100 for the year (2019 data), the IRS will deem that caregiver a household employee and not an independent contractor. That means you’ll be responsible to meet all the required provisions of an employer.
In most scenarios, it makes sense to lean on the accountability, leadership and protections an agency can offer, often with Workers’ Compensation coverage, W2 employee status for their providers, incentives for a strong work ethic and regular ongoing administrative duties.
The Joint Commission Accreditation
Home care and home health agencies owe it to their customers to invest in the very best practices and standards of healthcare. Accreditation with trustworthy organizations is an important way for providers to signal trustworthiness to those who need care.
The Joint Commission is a nonprofit organization in the U.S. that accredits more than 20,000 healthcare programs and organizations by “inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value,” with an emphasis on specific improvements in patient safety. Choosing providers accredited by The Joint Commission can give patients and their families an additional level of confidence in professional care.
Other Important Credentials and Benchmarks
The goal with credentials and experience is to inspire trustworthiness and reliability of the providers you choose to work with. Other noteworthy licenses and partnerships available to home care and home health agencies and providers may include affiliations with California Association for Health Services at Home, California Department of Social Services, strong ratings with the Better Business Bureau, partnerships with long-term care insurance (LTC) companies, fully insured homecare providers, coordination of approved backup caregivers or community involvement (Chamber of Commerce).
The Collaborative Work of Home Care & Home Health Services
It’s important to remember that home care and home health services are a hugely collaborative effort that include doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, in-home caregivers, administrative staff, and beyond.
Choosing a provider that is well established and connected within the local and statewide healthcare community not only provides stronger access to available care, but assurance that what you are choosing is the very best care for your loved one.
Ben Adel is founder of Luxe Homecare, a Pacific Palisades-based homecare agency offering services in Los Angeles, Orange County and Riverside. They offer round-the-clock support, including registered nurses (RN and LVN), rehabilitation and caregiving services. Contact the Luxe team at 310-459-3535 or visit luxehomecare.com.
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