Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1217 by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) on Oct. 13, establishing landmark consumer protections in the home-care industry for vulnerable Californians, according to a press release issued by Lowenthal’s office.
“This is about public safety, plain and simple,” said Lowenthal. “We place a lot of trust in these caregivers. AB 1217 ensures that they’ve earned that trust.”
AB 1217 establishes a licensing program for home-care organizations and requires background checks, basic training, and tuberculosis screening for the aides that they employ. The bill also includes a registry run by the Department of Social Services that will allow consumers to verify that the caregiver working in their home has passed a background check.
“Right now, I can check the license status of an air-conditioning repair person, but if I need to hire someone to help bathe a loved one, I’m at a loss,” Lowenthal said. “Consumers have the right to know if the person they let into their home is safe. Finally, state law will ensure that.”
Under existing law, all agencies and individuals that provide skilled nursing services must be licensed, complete with training requirements and background checks. However, for entities and individuals that provide non-medical, in-home personal care services like grooming, meal preparation, bathing, and assistance with other basic living tasks, only the publicly funded services require caregivers to pass a background check or meet basic training standards.
In contrast, approximately 1,200 privately funded home-care organizations operate in California with nothing more than a business license, according to Lowenthal’s office. An unknown number of independent home-care aides provide services without any oversight or regulation, Lowenthal states.
“As California’s population ages and home-care services are in even greater demand, it’s essential that we have the protections of AB 1217 in place,” said Gary Passmore, executive director of the Congress of California Seniors.
The bill was sponsored by the Congress of California Seniors and supported by a coalition of consumer-advocacy and public-safety groups, including the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, California Commission on Aging, AARP and SEIU.
Home-care organizations and aides will have until Jan. 1, 2015 to comply with the new licensing and background check requirements.
Source: Bonnie Lowenthal’s office