Referring to Referrals

The State of Washington, a hop, skip and two jumps north of us here in California, has taken a major step in improving services to our elders.  No, it is not home care agency licensing, which we are still debating (translation: “dragging our feet on”) here in California, but regulating referral agencies that receive commissions from assisted living and board and care facilities for recommending those facilities to families and their seniors.

Now, to be very, very clear, frankly that can be a great service, and we know several agencies here in the Sacramento region that provide high integrity, high value, no-cost-to-clients referrals.  Senior Care Solutions would be on the top of that list.  I am sure there are some very good elder housing referral agencies in Washington, as well.  And, then there are far too many that are unscrupulous or simply ignorant.

The Seattle Times reports that,

The legislation requires referral companies meet minimum standards, including:

• Obtaining a signed disclosure statement of fees and commissions.

• Maintaining at least $1 million in liability insurance coverage.

• Completing a standardized intake form that tracks a senior’s medical history and ability to pay for board and care. Seniors typically pay from $3,500 to $6,000 a month to live in an adult family home.

A key provision puts placement companies under the state Consumer Protection Act, which means complaints now can be investigated by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Frankly, those seem to me to be inadequate requirements, but they are better than what is in place now – in Washington or here.  If it helps to remove half of the shady operations that are taking advantage of elders and their families right now, it is a great start.

Then, maybe California will wake up, realize we are way behind, and start regulating and licensing not just housing referral agencies but the often shadier practices we find in home care – most often, again, from referral agencies.

Best wishes, Bert


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