The Home Care Licensing Difference

walking the homecare licensing walkTalking the talk and walking the walk, as you know, are two very different things. As a consumer, you probably hear tantalizing proposals from businesses on a daily basis – You’re in Good Hands with All State, BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine. That’s “the talk”. The walk is how a company follows through on its talk, or its promise of stellar service.

When you’re shopping for in-home care services for a loved one, you’ll hear a lot of talk from agencies that sounds similar. For example, all agencies claim to offer professional, compassionate care or hire only the most skilled caregivers. Most agencies also claim to conduct “detailed background checks” before hiring caregivers, as well, but do they really? Many claim to be “licensed”, but they are often merely referring to a “business license.” Inviting a caregiver into your home to care for an aging loved one is an incredibly important decision. How do you know for certain that you’re hiring a qualified agency that has proved its excellence?

Licensing, certification, and accreditation are the ways in which home care agencies can prove their dedication to excellent service. The Private Duty Homecare Association (PDHCA) has been working toward legislation to ensure a national regulation in the industry, but change has been slow moving.

In about 23 states, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Montana, it is not a requirement for private duty agencies to be licensed and certified. Accrediting bodies like PDHCA, The Joint Commission, and certain state health departments all offer accreditation standards that agencies can follow with membership until all states offer licensure.

A licensed, certified, or accredited agency must meet strict standards and criteria that cover a variety of areas that are considered key to providing safe, high quality care to home care clients. Some of these standards may include the following:

  • The agency exhibits responsible fiscal management.
  • The agency employs responsible human resource management, which complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Home care aides receive training for each task to be performed for the client prior to assignment.
  • The agency provides supervision and management of all levels of home care service, which ensures safe, effective and appropriate care to each individual or family served.
  • There is annual evaluation of all aspects of the service and a process for ongoing quality improvement.
  • The agency must ensure that nutritional services are provided by a registered dietitian.
  • The agency must determine that caregivers do not have a disqualifying criminal history without a waiver.
  • Social Security card and Visa or proof of citizenship is required.
  • Caregivers must successfully complete a competency evaluation.
  • Completion of continuing education training is required.
  • The agency must have an established, documented, and implemented quality management plan that includes:
    • A method to identify, document, and evaluate incidents;
    • A method to collect data to evaluate the provision of services, including oversight of personnel members;
    • A method to evaluate the data collected to identify a concern about the provision of services;
    • A method to make changes or take action as a result of the identification of a concern about the provision of services;
    • A method to determine whether actions taken improved the provision of services.

Licensing also protects clients’ rights, as their criteria require agencies to provide notification of rights and responsibilities of each party in terms of payment of wages, taxes, liabilities, etc. to the consumer, worker, and agency, report elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation, and follow basic infection control practices.

Unlicensed agencies are not held to any of these same standards and supervisions, and therefore it can be difficult to know if the quality of the care your loved one receives measures up.

At Nightingale Homecare, our high-standard difference requires that a registered nurse opens each and every patient’s case, and sets up a care plan for the caregivers and/or nurses to follow each day. We have caregivers who are overseen by professionals, and we have highly skilled nurses available 24/7.

Having a state license gives our agency the ability to add skilled medical care as soon as the staff identifies there is a need for it. With some license-free agencies, caregivers often operate outside of their scope, performing medical procedures that they are not licensed to perform, and putting the client and caregiver at risk.

Unlike many other Arizona agencies, licensed agencies like Nightingale also undergo state inspections. State Health Department inspectors review hiring policies and procedures, caregiver supervisory practices, and private duty client care along with the care provided Medicare clients to ensure that care is safe and appropriate. Additionally, if there is a complaint about a service, the state is involved in the inspection, which holds us to the highest standards. Other private duty agencies without certification do not undergo such inspections.

When researching home health agencies, be sure to check for the specifics, so that you can be sure your loved one is receiving the highest standard of care. Contact us today to learn more about our services, or call us at 602-504-1555.