Home Health Care Agencies in Florida: Your Options for Senior Care

Jun 12, 2012

We are often asked about how home health care agencies are licensed and regulated in Florida.  It can be very confusing for families to figure out the various types of providers of senior care, especially as regulations differ from state to state.  So, your experiences with elder care and home health agencies for your in-laws in Virginia and your parents in Florida may be very different.

You may want to start by getting some basic information on how providers are regulated through your state’s Area Agency on Aging and regulatory bodies (in Florida, that is the Agency for Healthcare Administration).

Generally, individual providers who are not working for companies do not fall under guidelines or requirements that agency providers do.  If you are considering hiring an individual, you should determine what your tax, employment and liability obligations may be.  Additionally, while you may have a background check performed, it may be difficult to ascertain any complaints or previous work problems for an individual who is not licensed by the state.

Florida regulates various types of healthcare and senior care providers, from home health agencies to assisted living facilities.  As far as in-home senior care providers go, there are essentially three types in Florida and various things to consider with each: homemaker companion services, nursing registries and home health companies.

Homemaker companion services are prohibited from providing hands-on care (so they may do errands, housekeeping, transportation but cannot physically help a client).  While this may meet your loved one’s immediate needs, consider what will happen if your loved one begins to need more help (will he/she want to make a transition/become familiar with a whole new provider?).  Clients’ needs often change quickly (during an illness, after a fall, etc.) and may vary over time.

Nursing registries are similar to a “matching” service or employment service.  They will match a caregiver to a client, providing a referral to one of their independent contractors.  The companies may offer additional service, such helping you find substitute care or providing insurance, but they are not required to do so via state law.

Fully-licensed home health agencies in Florida have the most requirements of the three types of in-home care agencies.  These agencies may be state-licensed only or may additionally be Medicare-certified to provide care reimbursed by a client’s Medicare insurance.  Home health agencies licensed by the state of Florida may provide the non-medical types of services EasyLiving provides (homemaker/companion, C.N.A./home health aide) while others provide skilled services such as R.N. or therapy services (though this is more typical of a Medicare-licensed agency, some agencies that accept other types of insurance may also provide these services).

To understand more about Medicare’s coverage of home health and the difference between Medicare and private-pay home care (along with other options for financial assistance), read more.

Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration offers information about licensing and a health finder to see licensed care providers in your area.  You should also ask questions of the senior providers you are considering, as many may go beyond the requirements and some will offer specialty services or “extras” that distinguish them.

How do you know what type of senior care provider is right for you?

  • Get the basic information for your state so you know what is required of each agency or provider.  You need to compare “apples to apples” as well as know any potential liability or gaps.
  • Determine what kind of care your loved one needs–what types of duties do you need performed, what types of special needs does your loved one have, how might care needs evolve over time?
  • Interview providers.  Find out about costs and types of care provided, their philosophy and services, what “extras” and quality assurance they provide.  This will give you a picture of how things really compare (for example, you may think a home health agency will be much more costly than a homemaker companion agency or using a private individual, but may find the costs are not significant, especially when you account for issues such as liability and background checks).
  • If regulated by the state, ask to see the latest inspection report and any complaints.
  • Ask how the agency trains and supervises staff.  Find out about training and experience with your loved one’s special needs.

Want to talk to someone today who can help you wade through your choices, answer your questions and understand your options?  Call us anytime at 727-447-5845 or click below to fill out an online request: 

EasyLiving, Inc. has been providing home health care to seniors in Pinellas and Pasco Counties (Clearwater, Largo, Belleair, St. Pete, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and more) since 2005.  

Topics: Home Care, News & Local Resources

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