I really have had it with home care agencies that do not observe what we believe is the law or ethical standards and will tell prospective clients anything and do things that undermine both the care of clients and the integrity of this senior care industry.
When we founded Support For Home In-Home Care, we committed to full legal and ethical compliance and to being the best employer possible, as well as the best provider of care to our clients. Over the years, we have seen a lot, tolerated a lot and built to a slow simmer.
With the introduction of new laws in California governing wage and hour provisions for caregivers, we have seen, time and again, home care agencies ignore the new laws, pretend they do not exist, or come up with what they say are “work arounds” that do not provide caregivers with what our reading of the new laws reflect. As we have watched this happen, at far too many agencies, our slow simmer has reached a full boil. Now, are we attorneys? No. Could we be wrong in our conservative reading of the laws? Sure. But …
Let’s talk real numbers, in California. For 24-hour care, the law is AB241, which our reading requires employers of caregivers (agencies or families, it does not matter) to pay 9 hours of regular time pay and 15 hours of overtime. That is for each and every 24-hour shift. Now, soon enough, minimum wage in California will go to $10 per hour, but right now it is $9 per hour. So, if I am a Home Care Aide working a 24-hour shift, our reading of the law says I should be paid, according to the law, $9 x 9 + $13.50 x 15. That comes to $283.50.
When AB241 was being “debated” in the legislature, we attended hearings and testified and wrote letters and emails and sent faxes, telling the legislature two things:
- Many agencies would not follow the law and many families hiring privately would not, as well. That would put agencies that do follow the law at a tremendous disadvantage.
- Many clients who do care about the law and do want to work with agencies that are ethical will run out of money a lot faster, forcing seniors into institutions, out of their homes.
Both of those things have happened. There is nothing I can do to save the ethical, law abiding clients that are forced out of their homes, at this point. Eventually, Medicare, Kaiser, Blue Cross / Blue Shield and all the rest of the medical insurance providers will have to recognize the health care component of home care and start helping with the cost. Until then, families and seniors just suffer.
What I can do, however, is continue to point out that we at Support For Home continue to follow the letter and spirit of the law (AB241 and others) and reiterate our profound commitment to ethics. I called one agency this afternoon, to tell them so. Their Website states that they are members of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Moreover, it even claims that they are “certified”. In fact, the owner of California Caregivers admitted to me on the phone that they are currently not even members. The Website for California Caregivers also says they are “proud members” of NPDA (used to be the National Private Duty Association). That body does not even exist any more. It is now the Home Care Association of America, on the national Board of Directors of which I am privileged to serve. California Caregivers is not a member.
Now, if Support For Home pays its Home Care Aides $283.50 for a 24-hour shift, it is seems miraculous that California Caregivers (and a bunch of other agencies) are able to charge clients between $250 and $275 for 24-hour shifts! Where did I get that number? It just so happens that one of our new Care Coordinators just recently joined us from that agency. She actually did work some 24-hour shifts for them – and was paid $156 for the shift. Well, that is only $127.50 less than we believe she should have been paid, so no big deal, right?
There are a few agencies we know that are doing the right thing, as we see it. We respect them and wish them the very best. We want good agencies out there to give clients a choice. But, as to the others? I really have had it.
Going to take my blood pressure reading now. Best wishes. Bert