The Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act: Overview and Future of the Act

The Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act was introduced in the United States Senate in 2013. Although it was introduced in the Senate, it was not voted on during that session (the 113th Congress).

To be passed, the Act would need to be reintroduced in a new Congress, pass both houses, and then be 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 the age of 60
  • Adults who utilize various home care services
  • Vulnerable adults

The Act would generally require states to guarantee basic rights for those receiving home care services. In-home human services help protect an older adult's activities of daily living, independence, and decision-making ability more than a long-term care facility will. Implementing the Act's changes would 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:

  • Requiring states to enact and enforce their own "Bill of Rights" for those receiving home health care
  • Requiring states to provide certain basic protections for a home care patient's basic safety, access to information, freedom of choice, and right to submit grievances
  • Directing the federal Administration on Aging (AOA) to establish best practices for state-based enforcement of such rights
  • Directing the AOA to establish a National Adult Protective Services Resource Center to improve protective services programs
  • Providing funds to support state home care ombudsman programs (such programs, like the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, would receive and resolve complaints regarding home care services)
  • Directing the AOA to develop quality measures and standards for home care providers and to disseminate them to states

Why Is Home Care Appealing for Older Adults?

Patients receiving home care services are provided assistance with their daily living or health care needs while remaining in their homes and living as independently as possible.

There's a wide range of home care options. These can include basic assistance with cooking, cleaning, or transportation. It can also include greater assistance with health care needs.

Where health care services are provided, the caregivers are normally licensed medical professionals such as nurses, therapists, or home health aides.

Home care is often a more attractive option for seniors or others requiring greater assistance 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 remain in a familiar environment that doesn't significantly disrupt their lives

What Protections Are Needed For Older Adult Home Care Patients?

70% percent of seniors will require some form of long-term care. In-home care will likely continue to be a favored option.

However, the greater use of home care also brings increased concerns for the safety and protection of seniors. 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 are concerned that there's insufficient oversight for home care providers. 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.

Additional Resources For Home Care Services

For more information on home care services in your area, see the Administration on Aging's ElderCare Locator.

If you suspect that a home care patient is not receiving adequate care or is the victim of abuse or exploitation, contact your local Adult Protective Services Agency, which can be found using the National Adult Protective Services Association's APS locator.

You Don't Have To Solve This on Your Own

You should also contact an attorney specializing in older adult law and older adult abuse to determine the rights and remedies available to victims in your state. To find an elder law attorney near you, see FindLaw's attorney directory.

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

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