The Washington State Department of Health receives 25-50 requests for NEW Home Care agency licenses each year. While many licensed agencies do a good job delivering care in private homes, do not assume that a license implies the necessary competence to care for vulnerable adults. There are important differences in the philosophy and practices of the owners and managers, including the skills and qualifications of caregivers and supervisory personnel. Home care agencies differ in the ways that they serve their customers, including response time, caregiver availability, after hours support, and too often their reliability. We want you to know just a few things about Home Care in Washington State.
Anyone can own and operate a licensed Home Care Agency with just:
1. A Washington State Criminal Background Check
2. A Business License and Liability Insurance, and
3. A set of Policies and Procedures that meet Department of Health guidelines
THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT that the owners, managers, or supervisors of a Home Care Agency have training, education, or experience in health care, caregiving, or social services. Policies and Procedures are available for purchase from a number of consultants, and are typically provided when a new provider purchases a franchised business.
2. Fortunately the qualifications to be a caregiver with a licensed Home Care Agency have recently been improved. However CareForce has hiring standards beyond the core legal requirements. These include:
- Current CPR/First Aid Certificates
- Passed a national background check
- At least 6 months professional work experience as a caregiver
- Professional work related references, not just personal references
- Passed a proprietary competency test prior to interview
- Completed an 8 hour orientation learning about safety, home care, and the importance of communication with their RN/MSW supervisor on a regular basis
3. Fewer than 25% of Home Care Agencies have a nurse on their staff:
The Washington State Department of Health does NOT require that Home Care Agencies use professional nurses as employees or consultants. As a result, the majority of Home Care Agencies do NOT benefit from the knowledge, skills, and experience that a Registered or Licensed Nurse brings to client assessments, care planning or case supervision.
4. Some companies listed under Home Care or Home Health Care in various advertising, phone books, and service directories are NOT licensed In Home Care providers:
They are instead referral and placement businesses with NO ongoing responsibilities for the caregiver they have placed or the care that you or your loved one receive. These companies are employment brokers who assist you in privately hiring a caregiver for a fee. Often their responsibility to the client usually ends once a placement is made. This option can save you money, but it is important to fully understand your relationship with this type of Agency. When you use a Broker Agency, you assume the responsibility to handle payroll and payroll taxes, to plan and supervise the care, to find replacements when your caregiver is sick or on leave, and you are fully responsible for any liability should an accident damage your property, or should any injury occur to your caregiver or your loved one.
4. Unlike many companies, CareForce DOES NOT pay, nor receive a fee for client referrals:
It is possible that you have been referred to a care facility or home care company because someone received a referral fee. Ethical referral agents will work strictly on an hourly fee agreement with their clients, or will clearly disclose the fees they receive to make a referral, and any implications this may have on providing client choice. Unfortunately, some referral agents or publications will ONLY refer to facilities or services that have previously agreed to pay them a fee. While disclosure of this practice is required by law, the required disclosure is often made only “in the fine print” of their client agreements.
CareForce has never paid nor received a fee for referrals. The written ethical codes of the ANA (American Nurses Association) and NASW (National Association of Social Workers) prohibit paying or receiving a referral fee unless the referring agent has added significant value to the referral process. If you were referred to CareForce, it is because we have earned the trust of the person who sent you our way, not because they will receive a fee for suggesting that you call CareForce.