Home Care in Washington

When caring for your loved one at home has become difficult or family caregivers are not available to do the necessary work, home care is a good option to consider.  Providers of home care in Washington often give the family caregivers the support and help they need to carry on with their other responsibilities while keeping their loved one at home in a comfortable and familiar environment.

Overview of Home Care

Home care, also known as in-home care, is non-medical care provided in your loved one’s home. Home care workers may provide care within a facility setting. Though they are not presently required to be credentialed, most homecare workers are trained caregivers who provide companionship and perform a wide range of non-medical responsibilities. Home care can be arranged without a physician’s order.

Home care should not be confused with home health care. Home health care is a specific type of care that provides in-home skilled nursing and therapeutic care. Home health care requires a prescription by a physician and the care is delivered by trained, licensed professionals. Some home health care agencies also provide home care services, but you should always inquire about the type of services offered at your first contact to ensure that you are matching the specific services with your loved one’s needs.

Services covered under home care

Home care in Washington may include services such as:

  • Personal care assistance with dressing, feeding and hygiene to facilitate self-care
  • Homemaking or assistance with household tasks, such as housekeeping, shopping, meal planning and preparation, and transportation
  • Respite care to assist and support the family caregivers

It can also include other non-medical services as well such as companionship.

Home Care in Washington

Types of home care agencies

There are basically two types of agencies for home care in Washington: full service and referral. Full-service home care agencies assume most of the work involved in hiring a caregiver for your loved one. Services normally include:

  • Prescreening employees for a criminal background
  • Checking multiple references
  • Providing worker’s compensation insurance
  • Maintaining professional liability insurance or bond
  • Covering all payroll taxes
  • Supplying a caregiver when a hired one will be absent
  • Replacing a caregiver who isn’t a good fit
  • Supervising caregivers

Referral agencies are primarily focused on finding a caregiver but little else. They usually provide some initial screening and background checks. They do not provide:

  • substitute caregivers when the caregiver is unable come
  • supervision of the caregiver
  • direct pay to the caregiver, which includes any taxes that might apply

Family caregivers that choose referral agencies should be prepared to supervise the caregiver’s effort, pay the caregiver directly (along with applicable taxes) and have a back-up caregiver or two should your primary one be unable to come on a given day.

Washington Home Health Licensing Requirements

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) licenses agencies who provide home care in Washington to assure care is provided within approved health and safety standards. The DOH enforces these standards by periodically conducting unannounced surveys of these agencies.

Licensed agencies that provide home care in Washington must employ a supervisor of direct care services that:

  • Supervises all client care provided by agency personnel and volunteers
  • Coordinates and develops written client care policies
  • Ensures that each home care aide reviews the plan of care or written instructions for the care of each client prior to providing home care aide services

The licensed facility must provide evidence of ongoing documented supervision of the care plan every six months by phone or visit. The purpose of these visits is to evaluate compliance with the plan of care and to assess client satisfaction.

Plan of Care for Patients

Licensed home care agencies in Washington must develop and implement a written home care plan of care for each client with input and written approval by the patient or designated family member(s). This plan of care must include:

  • Type and schedule of services to be provided
  • The patient’s physical and mental limitations
  • Nutritional needs and food allergies for meal preparation
  • Home medical equipment and supplies necessary for the plan of care
  • Non-medical tasks requested

You can view options for home care in Washington by going to our Washington home care page.

Written by senior housing writer Gary Gilles

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