Regulating Homecare (Part 2) | What Types of Agencies Exist?

Let’s face it, regulation has a profound effect on homecare from state to state.  I feel like I speak about this quite a lot because of the fact that families just do not know! In fact, in my research, I found 21 states that are completely unregulated! And in my practice, I’ve noticed that there are serious differences between how people perceive regulation—and what it actually is. When it comes to homecare, many families assume that all homecare agencies are regulated because of its connection to the medical world.  That’s not the case but a logical conclusion. Seniors and their families must be informed about the options when choosing a homecare provider—and ask the right questions.

Furthermore, in Dayton, Ohio we have approximately 125 homecare agencies. All of which fall under the below types. In Maricopa County, Arizona there are approximately 400+ agencies providing care to the elderly. The choices are limitless but the options can vary tremendously from company to company with some being great and some being horrible.

What is regulation?

Oxford Dictionaries defines regulation as “a rule or directive made and maintained by an authority”. For our purposes, regulation means that the government (state or federal) oversees the process and procedure of companies that provide care to seniors. When it comes to homecare, there are three types of homecare companies:

1)     Companies whose clients are all part of the waiver system, which means they are fully paid by the state services (available to anyone below a certain income stream). The waiver system is in essence, a regulatory body.

2)     Private pay companies that specifically do not take waiver and are only paid by the client or families themselves. They are fully unregulated by the state.

3)     Combination companies, which accept both waiver and private pay clients.  They are a hybrid of the above.

What is the difference between waiver and private homecare companies?

When choosing a homecare provider, the first question you need to ask is: Are you a service waiver company? If they are, great. If they aren’t, you need to dig deeper, and ask them how they regulate themselves. What I mean by that is simple…there is no oversight on the services that they provide, the procedures for hiring, nor the policy for administering homecare. They are essentially left to do what they please and have no requirement of the basics (background checks, drug tests, etc.)

Waiver companies

Waiver homecare companies are regulated, and are bound by minimum government standards that they must report on. You need to provide information about your services, background checks, liability insurance, and the like.

 Private pay companies

There’s nothing wrong with private companies, and there are many good private pay companies on the market; however, because they’re completely unregulated, they aren’t bound by any regulatory standards, and can provide whatever level of care they want. So you need to ask the right questions to ensure you’re receiving the best possible care. See the end of this blog post for a list of questions to ask.

Combination Agencies

Combination agency’s, like Lavender Homecare Solutions, accept both private and waiver patients. They care for patients, regardless of income, and also have regulation behind them.

When looking for a agency whether it is wavier and private, ask which waiver programs they work for. If you start out your homecare journey by paying privately, you may eventually run out of funding and may need to switch to a waiver program. So you want to make sure that your homecare agency can take you from private to waiver seamlessly and without any change in your service whatsoever. The only difference when you switch should be that you’re no longer receiving a bill.  PLAN, PLAN, PLAN for what is to come!

Conclusion and Advice

When looking an agency see what your needs are and ask for references.  If you recieve their name from a friend or family member then you have some basis to choose from.  But in the end you need to still ask questions and be in control of the services provided to you and your family.