Some seniors who wish to stay out of retirement homes can hire an in-home care professional to assist them with their shopping, medicine, cooking, and other needs. However, occasionally some criminals will take advantage of the situation to rob or exploit the very people they are supposed to be helping.
South Carolina Rep. Jenny Horne (R-Dorchester) says most in-home care providers are honest, but she wants to protect those seniors who don’t have a way to know which providers to trust. She mentioned a Charleston man who lost more than $600,000 after his provider robbed him.
The state House passed a bill she sponsored Tuesday that would require businesses that offer the care to apply for a license. The license would set guidelines for those businesses to follow, such as conducting background checks, drug tests, and minimum education requirements. Horne said the law is an effort to get bad apples out of the mix.
People who have drug problems prey on seniors. If they do have a drug problem, they’re more likely to steal money from the elderly whom they’re hired to care for. So, this is a protection mechanism.
The bill would also require businesses to pay a fee in order to get the license. It would not require individuals to apply for the licenses, only the businesses that hire them out. The bill passed by an 83-21 vote. Some opponents were concerned that individuals would not be required to get licenses. Others opposed the new fee for providers.
Horne said she hopes the background checks will promote the legitimate businesses over individuals .
A person who wants to hire someone would probably be wise to contact DHEC (the Department of Health and Environmental Control) to get a list of providers in their area who are licensed, bonded, and insured.
She says it is the only branch of medical care that is completely unregulated by the state, “But I’m not trying to grow government, I’m just hoping to protect a vulnerable part of the population.”
Churches and other nonprofits would not have to go through the process. Horne said nonprofits do not charge for their service and do not receive a financial gain, so they should be exempt.
She hoped seniors and their guardians would, if nothing else, move towards licensed providers and away from independent caregivers. Horne gave an example of what she hoped to see less of.
There was an ad that an elderly person had placed in the paper that said, “Caregiver needed” and gave their telephone number. If I can talk to seniors, I would tell seniors, “Do not do that.”
A similar bill failed in the Senate last year after several legislators said they were uncomfortable with a provision that would have required the licensees to follow Medicaid guidelines. Horne said she understood the argument, since most in-home care services are not covered by Medicaid. This year’s version does not include such a requirement.