In virtually all states, skilled nursing homecare or “home health” agencies are licensed by that state’s government. When it comes to non-medical homecare, however, the situation is much more mixed. Slightly more than half of the states do license non-medical homecare companies, but exactly what that means varies greatly. There is a fairly current reference page at Private Duty Today of what licensing requirements exist, state by state.
In Oklahoma, for example, the agency sends a letter and a form and $1 to the Department of Health. That’s about it. Like every business, you need state and federal employer ID numbers and you have payroll responsibilities, but there is not much substance to the requirements in terms of quality or safety for the clients and their families. The fee for the license, to me, indicates the seriousness with which it should be taken.
In Oregon, on the other hand, applications cost $1500 and renewals cost $750. Right there you have an indication of a rather more serious approach, in that state. From colleagues operating there, Oregon does, indeed, take homecare seriously.
In California, on the other hand, there is no licensing involved for non-medical homecare, at all!
So, what’s the big deal? Well, in our view, it does not make any sense at all that home furnishings business are licensed (Bureau of Electronic Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation), but the people who take care of folks in those furnished homes are not!
As owners of a homecare agency in California, we would welcome a change to that situation. Seniors need as much protection as anyone having landscaping done or a car repaired. Will it cost our business money to implement the needed licensing overview? Yes. Is it an important investment in the safety and quality of care of our clients.