Monday, March 16, 2009

Senior Safety in Homecare

Senior care is not cheap, and in this tough economic time everyone is looking to save money. The question is at what expense?

Non-medical homecare can be obtained through a private party or through an agency. When seniors and families are looking at care options price is almost always a factor. Private individuals will usually be less expensive, but there are several factors to be weary of, in both private care, and agency care.

Each state decides licensure for private duty non-medical homecare. Some states have regulations and some have none, allowing anyone to open an agency. This leaves the consumer in a possible risky situation even with an agency. In order to reduce your risk I will inform you what to do to be diligent in making sure you or a loved one is in the safest possible care.

Check your states regulations for Private Duty Homecare. If you’re in a licensed state, licensing will only be for agencies, not for individuals who provide care. You can check with your state if a particular agency has had any complaints, or suspensions. This does not guarantee the agency is safe. Plenty of facilities are licensed but are not providing safe and adequate care. It may help you eliminate an agency you’re looking into though.

All caregiver’s regardless of where they came from need to have an accurate and thorough background check. Many companies perform background checks, but not all companies provide updated or accurate information. Even your state police may have old data. When someone is charged with a crime the county is the first to put the information into the system. It may be months before that information is processed and entered into the state system. We are a mobile society, and people frequently move, especially if they are committing crimes. How do you know what counties they have lived in? You can’t be sure the candidates are being truthful about where they’ve lived. At Visiting Angels we use a background check company that performs county, state, national checks, driving history, as well as residence, date of birth, social security, previous known aliases, and sex offender registry. We feel extremely confident in our background checks. The company we use has been C.A.U.S.E. certified.

C.A.U.S.E. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is Consumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment. This organization will certify a company uses Safe Service Employment practices. This is important for all companies that provide service, not just home care agencies. I invite you to read about this very important service.

Most seniors and their families will hire a private individual without any background check, let alone an accurate through check. There are agencies using the cheapest background checks they can find to save on costs, and to say their employees have been checked. This is not an area to cut costs. It is imperative our seniors are safe! When you are deciding on an individual or agency, you must get a background check on an individual, and ask an agency where they are getting their checks, and what checks are being performed. Database checks are useless, and anything above county is old and inaccurate.

An article was released on last year titled "Beware of Former Prisoners Caring for Your Parents", stating prison guards are advising soon-to-be released prisoners that care giving can be easy employment. To protect yourself and your family it is imperative you have an individual thoroughly checked. The article can be found at

It’s also important to know that individual provider’s are rarely insured, bonded, or carry workman’s compensation insurance. That leaves the senior at risk for theft, and lawsuits. If a private individual gets hurt in your home they can sue you for damages. Caregiver’s are out there suing agencies for false injuries, so if it can happen to an agency, it sure can happen to an individual or family.

Private individuals do not replace themselves when they are sick or decide to quit, leaving many families in a bind. Although agencies are sometimes unable to provide a service backup if your caregiver is unable to work, most of the time a good, diligent agency will provide a replacement.

In the time of information you can learn so much on the web. Google the name of the individual, or agency owner and administrators and see what comes up. Be suspicious if you find nothing. Ask for references, and then check them. An individual or agency that is providing good and safe care will be happy to have their current or previous client’s tell you how good they are.

The safety of yourself or a loved one is no place to spare the
time, expense, and due diligence of checking an individual or agency out before hiring them. It's a scary world, and seniors are at risk for abuse, neglect, fraud, and theft. We need to prevent as much risk as possible.

1 comment:

  1. Angil,

    I agree with your post. I found out 2 years ago that my Grandfather was receiving inadequate care while in a private pay facility. It took me a long time to come up with suffiecient evidence and it turned out that the CNA was not a CNA at all! In fact, this person had never had any experience at all! It is imperative that the care of elders is addressed and that the information is out there. We get caught up thinking that because they look like Doctors, that we anyone in scrubs or a white coat can be trusted. I do believe that patients and their families do need to be proactive and take a stand for the quality of care they are receiving. No ones should be sacrificed.

    -Rob Andrzejewski


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