25 September 2013

Home Care Coming Under Scrutiny

Who is checking on the people who are minding our elders? While this is taken from information gathered in California, I know that it applies to many other states. if not all states. According to a new policy brief and related report by the UCLA Center for Health PolicyResearch, very little data exists to measure the care or quality of care provided by private home care providers.

Two of the provider organizations in California, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and Home Health Agencies are subject to licensing, certification, and background checks. The other two offer none of these protections and are Home Care Agencies and individual caregivers, whether they provide services of housekeeping or other non-medical support.

Nadereh Pourat, the UCLA center’s director of research and author of the study stated, “Regulations within the private home care industry might help establish standards for caregiving that can ensure patient safety and quality of care.” This combined with a mandatory background check should be a minimum. I don't think licensing should be required, but a form should be filed with the local law enforcement agency so that in case of a robbery, death, fire, or other accident, they could know who might have been in the residence.

Of course, the policy brief was funded by the Service Employee International Union, and the Union of Long Term Care Workers. They desire the licensing and union membership to put in their coffers.

Then those wanting regulation want them also for this reason. Regulation could result in another important benefit, creating public data that could be studied to better understand the quality of care provided by home care agencies. Regulations by the state to create standards of care and provide for background checks is understandable, but for other purposes such as providing curiosity data should not be the goal of regulations.

Other states would be wise to consider similar actions to create standards.

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