Does It Matter How Home Care Companies Are Certified?

In California, it’s important to make sure that your home care company has a meaningful certification because the state of California does not license or regulate non-medical in-home care companies. Thus, in the absence of state regulation for consumer protection, older adults and their families have to rely upon certification to help make sure that they’re choosing a home care company that employs at least a minimum set of “best practices” by meeting the minimum standards established by the certification program.

In California, there are at least two relevant certifications available for non-medical in-home care companies.

  • ABHC, the American Board of Home Care
  • CAHSAH, the California Association for Health Services At Home

There can be significant differences between companies that meet one or both of the certification standards. For more information about this, see our article titled Are Home Care “Minimum Standards” Good Enough For My Parents?

There are significant differences between the two certifications. We believe that the CAHSAH certification’s standards both are more relevant and more complete, and A Servant’s Heart Care Solutions has the CAHSAH certification.  With that said, the state of California is slated to begin licensing home care companies as of January 1, 2016, and when that happens, these non-governmental standards will no longer matter very much, if at all.

With that said, we also believe that both consumers and care workers should look for much more than just the minimum standards specified by the certification criteria. There are standards that we believe are important, but which neither CAHSAH nor ABHC nor the new state licensing standards require for certification.  These missing standards include:

  1. Requiring that the certified home care company always prepare and maintain a current written plan of care for each client, containing specific types of information necessary for routine matters and for emergencies.
  2. Requiring that the certified home care company make supervisors available to both consumers and workers on a 24/7 basis for support and emergency assistance.
  3. Requiring that the certified home care company maintain an emergency evacuation plan for each client for whom the home care company is providing at least 8 hours per day of service.
  4. Requiring that the certified home care company provide an appropriate level of supervision, including unannounced supervision / quality control visits.
  5. Requiring that the certified home care company ensure that the caregivers who work with its clients have the necessary language skills to safely provide care for each client, taking into account each client’s own language skills.
  6. Requiring that the certified home care company provide significant amounts of relevant continuing education or training to its caregivers.

These are all standards that A Servant’s Heart Care Solutions follows, but you cannot assume that any other certified company does so without asking them.

Originally posted 2009-07-22 00:25:26.