Monterey, CA : SB 411 Bad News For Seniors, Caregivers & Agencies : View From A Private Duty Caregiver Serving, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Gilroy, Gonzalez, Greenfield, Hollister, King City, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove & Pebble Beachby Richard Kuehn on 07/23/11
As I've written about many times on my blog, I have been actively lobbying for senior rights in Sacramento along with making my voice heard about bills which are going to hurt my business, my employees, and ultimately our Clients. The two bills I recently traveled to Sacramento to lobby against were AB 889 which will be financially devastating to many seniors receiving private duty caregiving in their own homes and SB 411. Although the latter is nowhere near as horrendous as AB 889, there are some things written into the bill that I am completely against. The biggest is the requirement that employee information be placed on a public web site. Although this is ostensibly being done so that people can check to see if a caregiver is "certified", the certification program being required by the bill is a much weaker training than what we currently do. It requires two hours of orientation plus just three hours of additional training on basic safety precautions, emergency procedures and infection control, which can be done online. Why is the legislature trying to force caregiving agencies to put the names of employees up on their web site? I don't think it has anything to do with the consumer, rather, it is a thinly veiled disguise, in my opinion, to attempt to get all employees names up on the site so the union can contact them about organizing (the bill is backed by the Service Employee's International Union (SEIU)). Hundreds of union workers were bussed in to lobby for the bill when I went to Sacramento.
There is language in the bill which I believe, based on my experience, is simply not true. It says, "Discharge planners commonly maintain list of home care aids and home care organizations for purposes of patient referral without any information about the individuals or the organizations, thereby placing both the patient and the referring organization at risk. I don't know of any reputable hospital or other health care organization which would discharge a patient to an agency they know nothing about. In fact, the major hospitals know their communities very well and are very familiar with companies like mine. Other controversial aspects of the bill require that the caregiver have "specified language skills" which, unfortunately aren't specified in the bill. I would assume they are talking about fluent English, which may not be important if the Client doesn't speak English. Another objection I have to the bill is that it would require our employees, while providing home care services, to wear a badge that includes their name, a photograph, the name of our company, the expiration date of our license and the home care aide's certificate number in 12-point type or larger. We ask Clients whether they want our employees to wear a badge and the answer has always been overwhelmingly no. Our Clients want their life to be as normal as possible, and stepping into Safeway or taking a walk in the park with someone who is clearly an employee hired to help them can be embarrassing. Most of our Clients are in their 90's but consider themselves young at heart. The last thing they want to do is make it clear to the general public that they are no longer able to live on their own without assistance. We always personally introduce our caregivers to the Client so there is no question who is an employee and who is not. The Client should be allowed to decide whether they want the worker to have a badge or uniform. And yet another issue I have with the bill is it requires a home care aide to submit to a TB examination within 14 days after employment. This exposes the Client to a serious infectious disease. We always require a negative TB test prior to sending a potential employee out into the home. Why wait 14 days? In my opinion, the biggest problem in the industry related to the issues trying to be addressed by SB 411 are caregivers hired under the table or those which are hired via referral services which then allow the senior citizen to employ the person with no oversight. I recently wrote about a new competitor which entered the Monterey area which is said to be hiring caregivers and paying them cash, issuing a 1099 at year end. I pointed out the many risks this presents to the employee, the Client and the company doing this. Unfortunately, the bill, as written, actually exempts an agency "which procures, offers, refers, provides or attempts to provide, but is not the employee of, a home care aide or other workers who provide home care services or domestic services to clients and consumers." In summary, this bill is bad for companies like ours, our employees, and seniors.