If You Break It, Fix It

Back in May of this year, I wrote an article called, “How Does Your Homecare Agency Respond to Challenges?”  In the article, I said, “Even excellent homecare agencies encounter challenges and problems.  Believe me, we know.    The question is, how does the agency respond to those challenges?” 

That question will always be a critical one, not just in home care, but for any business.  But, when we are talking about elders and others who need support for Activities of Daily Living, you want the home care agency that makes the fewest mistakes but that also is quick and aggressive in dealing with them.

So, when you hire people to assist elders, you need to do a solid background check.  In California, most agencies use the California Department of Justice.  Sounds good, but, frankly, it is not as good as it should be.  The CA DOJ only provides 5 years of state and local information, but caregivers move in from Nebraska and Alabama and Michigan.  What happened there?  Are there federal crimes?  Is the applicant on the Sex Offender Registry?  Then you interview the heck out of people and, in our case, put them through a personality and behavioral assessment test.  Finally, we do orientation on the day of hire, which includes a 10-point, saliva-based drug test, performed right at our office.

Even after we hire, we know that we have only greatly reduced the likelihood of a problem.  We know that the probability of a problem with our employees is much less than for most other agencies, because our process is, frankly, better.

But …  Every decent home care company carries some level of dishonesty bond insurance.  Every home care company hopes that using that policy will never be required.  But the client deserves to know that they are protected.

In California, the minimum bond amount for certification by the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) is $10,000.  At Support For Home, we carry a $50,000 bond for our clients.  And, yes, we never want to have to use it.

Well, guess what?  For the very first time, we had a situation of a former employee alleged to have committed financial abuse.  Dishonesty bonds require conviction of the perpetrator in order for reimbursement of the client to occur, but, frankly, that is not the way we operate.  We wrote a check to the client (who is still with us, by the way) and, if we get reimbursed, great, but we were determined that the client should not suffer in any way.  We reported the allegation to Adult Protective Services and are pressing for a full police investigation.  We will not tolerate any form of abuse of elders, whether from their associates or family members – or from a (former) employee.

So, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but if you break it, FIX IT!

Best wishes, Bert


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