Legislation to Govern Elder-Care
With our vastly expanding senior
population, the elderly care business is booming, in fact it IS one industry
that is steadily recruiting and providing employment for many Americans.
The costs for senior care
can be expensive, whether it is for home-care or full-time nursing home
care. And as such, this has led to a boom in businesses that pass
referrals to elder care companies.
Many home health care franchises
and nursing homes will pay substantial commissions to placement services
in order to secure new clients.
Many of these elder-care
referral companies are bona-fide senior support organizations, however,
there are also some ‘sharks’ emerging in the business. Currently
elder-care referral businesses are largely unregulated, which has meant
that more or less anyone can set up as a referral agency. Some of
these businesses are raking in hefty profits, whilst very often beguiling
their customers that they are caring organizations promising to help with
long-term care of their elderly loved one.
Many of these referral agencies
will steer their customers towards the nursing facilities that will pay
the highest ‘bounty’ for a new client, not necessarily the best-fit nursing
Washington State may be the
first state to try and combat this profiteering from vulnerable seniors
and their families. New regulations to legislate the elder-care referral
industry have been put to Gov. Chris Gregoire, which will introduce strict
standards by which these companies operate.
The draft legislation has
been borne out of an investigation conducted by the Seattle Times “Seniors
for Sale”, which revealed some major flaws in the state’s oversight of
adult care homes. This investigation discovered that many referral
agencies failed to properly screen elder-care facilities for past care
management violations. Elder-care abuse and neglect is a terrible
thing, but unfortunately a reality in our society, and we must ensure as
much is done as possible to prevent it.
The new legislation calls
for elder-care placement and referral companies to meet some minimum standards,
• Obtaining a signed disclosure
statement of fees and commissions.
• Maintaining at least $1
million in liability insurance coverage.
• Completing a standardized
intake form that tracks a senior's medical history and ability to pay for
board and care. Seniors typically pay from $3,500 to $6,000 a month to
live in an adult family home.
It would also put elder-care
referral companies under the state Consumer Protection Act, meaning any
complaints would be referred to the Attorney General’s Office.
It is intended that the legislation
will support those senior care organizations that do work closely with
families, and it will provide a new transparency so that families will
be totally aware of what commissions a referral agency secures.
There is also a move to try
and combat many of the web-based referral agencies that have sprung up
and solicit contact details from vulnerable people using the Internet to
find a nursing home. ‘A Place For Mum’, a Seattle-based company and
the largest elder-care referral company in the U.S., is majority-owned
by a global private equity firm, and makes $50 million a year in gross
profits. Another web site ‘AssistedLiving.com’ makes no mention of
‘A Place for Mom’, serves exactly the same purpose in eliciting contact
details, and is hosted on the same computer server as ‘A Place for Mom’.
It certainly seems that this
new legislation will protect seniors and their families in that difficult
process of finding the right nursing care facilities. At the same time,
it will dictate a greater visibility for American consumers in understanding
how corporate entities will hide behind multiple guises in their solicitation
of our dollars!
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Living | Care Homes
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