Contact:  Michael Doepke, Home Helpers
Phone:  708-783-1220

(August 8, 2008)  There really is no place like home. Without question, older adults everywhere choose to remain at home as long as possible. The good news:  the home care industry that provides personal services and/or medical assistance to older adults (and many others) has experienced unprecedented growth, enabling many older adults to remain independent at home. The “not-so-good” news is that providers of all kinds and levels of quality emerged to meet these escalating demands for home care services.  Quality of care became a critical concern.

To ensure that elders and their families enjoy the high quality home care that they deserve, a collection of professional home care associations in Illinois collaborated on a statewide legislative initiative that requires licensure of all home care agencies operating in Illinois.  In short, all home care providers will be required to comply with a minimum set of standards effective September 1, 2008.

As a result of this landmark legislation, quality standards for home care have been established to address the horror stories that occasionally hinder the difficult decision to seek in-home care for a loved one: lack of information, elder abuse and neglect and potential fraud and financial exploitation issues.

Recognizing that consumers of private duty home care are often the most vulnerable in our population, the notion of creating standards for the industry quickly gained the support of key Illinois legislators, many with first hand experience arranging for the care of an older adult.   On July 29, 2005 Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the Home Health, Home Services and Home Nursing Agency Licensing Act (Public Act 094-0379) making Illinois one of twenty-two states to enact legislation to regulate private duty home care. The passage of this legislation, by unanimous vote, amended the existing Home Health Agency Licensing Act to require the licensure of agencies that provide private duty services including non-medical home care. Illinois’ progressive law will have a significant impact on the nearly 500 plus agencies or entities statewide that offer non-government funded custodial and skilled nursing services to clients in their own homes.

After September 1, 2008, licensure by the Illinois Department of Public Health is required for all agencies in Illinois that provide services directly or act as a placement agency. Consumers may still hire home care workers privately. The law assures that all agencies offering home care services adhere to the standards and rules adopted by the Illinois Department of Public Health. These rules define scope of practice, worker training, supervision and record keeping requirements. Agencies will be subject to onsite visits/audits by the Department and will incur penalties if standards are not met.

The new Home Health, Home Services and Home Nursing Agency Licensing Act will benefit consumers in four key areas:

  1. The Act requires State of Illinois police checks for all home care workers.
  2. All agencies must notify consumers and their home care workers as to the party or parties responsible under State and Federal laws for payment of employment taxes, social security taxes, workers’ compensation, and liability insurance. Additionally, consumers and workers must be made aware, in writing, of who has responsibility for the day- to-day supervision of workers, including the hiring, firing, and discipline of workers.
  3. Consumers can expect consistent standards. Agencies must comply with education, training, reporting and supervisory requirements as dictated by their level of licensure and scope of services.
  4. Home care agencies and home care workers must report any known or suspected incidences of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of an eligible adult as defined in the Elder Abuse Act.

Want to learn more about the new law?  Contact Mike Doepke, Owner of Home Helpers in Western Springs for a FREE “License to Care” brochure. Call Mike at 708-783-1220.