Monday, January 11, 2010


Criminal Background Check Required for PA Home Care Aides

Another state has joined the ranks of those requiring home care aides to undergo a criminal background check (Click here).

The State of Pennsylvania recently implemented a law requiring agencies and registries that send aides into private homes to be licensed by the state Department of Health. Under the new law, agencies have until February 10 to apply for licenses. So far, more than 700 entities have requested applications.

In order to obtain a license, employees of those agencies must pass a criminal background check, obtain child abuse clearances, and be screened for tuberculosis.

According to an article by The Morning Call, agencies employing those aides must use testing or training courses to prove that caregivers are competent. Agencies and independent contractors also must list their services and fees up front.

To hold up its end of the deal, the health department plans to post information online about the agencies that are licensed, so consumers can check them out. There also will be a complaint hotline.

The need for the new regulation law came from growth in the home care industry as the elderly population continues to expand and more seniors remain in their own homes instead of going to nursing homes.

Pennsylvania currently ranks third in the nation for its percentage of people older than 65. Coinciding with that large population, the Pennsylvania Homecare Association went from having 38 home care member agencies during 2001 to having 254 home care member agencies today.

During 2006, the Pennsylvania General Assembly amended the Health Care Facilities Act, which sets standards for hospitals and other healthcare providers, to include home care agencies.

However, it took three years for licensing rules to be established, because the health department solicited input from several interested parties. The department met with disability rights groups, retirement communities, trade groups and nursing home representatives.



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