What Is the Future of the Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act?

The U.S. Senate introduced the Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act in 2011 and again in 2013. The Senate didn't vote on it during either legislative session. The act aimed to amend the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965. The OAA established the Administration on Aging within the Department of Health.

Congress would need to reintroduce the act in a new session. The bill would have to pass both houses and then get signed by the president. This is unlikely, but portions of the bill may reappear in future legislation.

What Did This Bill Hope To Achieve?

The Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act addresses growing concerns about the safety and protection of:

  • Adults over 60
  • Adults who use home care services
  • Vulnerable adults

The law would force states to guarantee basic rights for those using home care services. In-home human services help protect an older adult's daily living and decision-making abilities. Many older adults and their families prefer home care to nursing homes or long-term care facilities. But, there are not as many resources and protections for home care as for nursing home residents. This act aims to provide some consumer protection for older adults and their in-home service providers.

What Would The Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act Do?

While it is unlikely to pass under its current name, the 2013 version of the act called for states to:

  • Enact and enforce their own "Bill of Rights" for those using home health care
  • Provide certain basic protections for a home care patient's basic safety. This would include the right to access information, the right to freedom of choice, and the right to submit grievances.

It also directed the federal Administration on Aging (AOA) to:

  • Establish best practices for state-based enforcement of such rights
  • Establish a National Adult Protective Services Resource Center to improve protective services programs
  • Work with Area Agencies on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Centers to help them incorporate quality assurance standards
  • Develop quality measures and standards for home care providers and disseminate them to states

The act would also provide funds to support state home care ombudsman programs. Programs like the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program would hear and resolve complaints about home care services.

Why Is Home Care Appealing for Older Adults?

Home care gives patients services to help with their daily living or health care needs while they remain in their homes and live as independently as possible.

Home care is often a more attractive option for seniors or others who need more help with their daily living needs. This is due to:

  • Rising costs of long-term nursing care facilities
  • Medicare doesn't cover long-term care
  • Most people don't have a long-term care insurance policy
  • Allowing older adults to stay in a familiar environment that doesn't significantly disrupt their lives

There's a wide range of home care options. These can include basic help with cooking, cleaning, or transportation. It can also include more help with health care needs. The caregivers are typically licensed medical professionals such as nurses, therapists, or home health aides.

What Protections Do Older Adult Home Care Patients Need?

About 70% percent of seniors will need some form of long-term care. In-home care will likely continue as a favored option.

But, the greater use of home care also increases concerns for seniors' safety and protection. After all, home care providers have direct and personal access to vulnerable seniors in their homes.

With greater awareness of older adult abuse and exploitation, many believe there's insufficient oversight. These service providers are not always licensed professionals.

Currently, laws protect patients' rights in long-term nursing care facilities. The Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act, or a similar future Act, would extend such rights to home care patients.

More Resources For Home Care Services

When looking for help with in-home care services for older adults, there are useful resources to support their well-being. Explore local and state agencies and organizations that focus on home care, like those connected to health care networks or community services.

The Administration on Aging's ElderCare Locator can help you find information about the services in your area. You can also talk to health care professionals or geriatric specialists for advice. They can help you find suitable in-home care options that match the specific needs of older adults. Using these resources ensures access to personalized support for aging people in their homes.

If you suspect a home care patient isn't getting proper care or might be a victim of abuse or financial exploitation, take quick action. Contact your local Adult Protective Services Agency using the National Adult Protective Services Association's APS locator. You can report any concerns and ensure the safety of older adults.

You Don't Have To Solve This on Your Own

You should also contact an elder law attorney specializing in older adult law and older adult abuse to determine the rights and remedies available to victims in your state.

More information about protective services and legal services for seniors is available through FindLaw's Reporting Elder Abuse or the National Center on Elder Abuse.

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