Weighing the Risk-Benefit, Which Home Care is Right for Me?

There have been some horror stories in the news about private caregivers recently and as an owner of a home care agency it baffles me why people continue to take this risk.  So many different kinds of legitimate caregivers and agencies it is incredibly important to know what you are looking for and the pros/cons of each one. This is about “non skilled” home care which is private pay. The Agency for Health Care Administration is responsible for the licensure and regulation of Florida’s home health providers. There are several types of providers;  home care agencies, nurse registries, homemaker companion services and private caregivers. Not all are licensed by AHCA. 

Non skilled or “licensed only” home health agencies employ a combination of Certified Nurse’s Aides, Home Health Aides and homemaker/companions. Staff are required to have CPR certification and training in HIV and Alzheimer’s Disease. Most are subject to periodic surveys from AHCA to maintain licensure. They can have regular employees or subcontractors who have to claim their own taxes. Not all in our area are licensed, bonded, and insured so if this is important to you always ask. The bond and liability insurance protects the client if something is broken or stolen. If they have regular W2 employees they most likely have worker’s compensation insurance but this is very important to ask when shopping. A person working in your home with a back injury could cost a homeowner a lot of money. Most agencies have hourly minimums, Avid is actually the only one with no hourly minimum and very flexible scheduling. The point is, there are safe agency options that can meet everyone’s needs. 

Another option for licensed home care are nurse registries. Nurse registries are regulated by AHCA but the staff are subcontractors which means they do not take out taxes for them. They are required to do background checks to maintain their licensure and the same requirements for staff apply as with the home health agencies. 

Homemaker/companion services are not required to be licensed by AHCA, they have no surveys for compliance although they are strictly prohibited from performing any activity that requires hands on care, that includes helping someone shower, dress, walk or get up from a chair. They are not required to carry any liability insurance which is usually what dictates that we must do background checks. According to AHCA if you employ a private person in your home you should ask who will be responsible to pay household employment taxes, income withholding taxes, and unemployment taxes. If the individual does not pay these taxes the homeowner may be responsible. Private caregivers are not required to be licensed with AHCA, therefore they are also not regulated by anyone. They are asked to stay within the scope of their practice but no one is watching.  For more information go to : floridahealthfinder.gov/reports-guides/home-health.aspx.