Los Angeles Elder Abuse and Personal Injury Lawyers at the S & S Legal Group Comment on the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013

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California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed the Act which seeks to improve training, oversight and accountability for the home healthcare industry. Elder Abuse and Personal Injury Lawyers Sean Salamati and Ramin Soofer of the S & S Legal Group applaud the move but insist that the act should not encourage complacency. The attorneys reiterate that California's elderly population needs aggressive advocacy.

Enforcement and oversight will be crucial. Having the law in place is helpful but the most vulnerable members of our population need aggressive advocates who are protecting them from abuse

The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013 is California's attempt to more strictly regulate companies that provide in-home custodial care for elderly people and people with disabilities. Sean Salamati and Ramin Soofer of the S & S Legal Group are happy that the legislature is calling attention to the issue and taking substantive action but "enforcement and oversight will be crucial. Having the law in place is helpful but the most vulnerable members of our population need aggressive advocates who are protecting them from abuse," Salamati says. And, Soofer continues, "this type of law may discourage some abuse but, unfortunately, abuse and neglect will continue. The majority of nurses, other healthcare workers and custodial aides who provide in-home care to the elderly are professional and compassionate. But there are going to still be instances of abuse. We will continue to hold individuals and their employers accountable for all kinds of elder abuse."

The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013, also known as AB 1217, was written by Long Beach Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal and signed by the governor on Sunday October 13, according to a press release from Lowenthal's office. The press release offers a summary of what the law will require: thorough background checks on workers by their employers, five hours of training for each worker, and an online registry of all in-home aides. Finally, all workers will be required to obtain a license that asserts their understanding of standards for their profession. Though it is a positive step, the elder abuse attorneys lament that the law will not go into effect until 2015.

"This law should have been imposed years ago," Soofer says. "When the state released 'Caregiver Roulette: California Fails to Screen those who Care for the Elderly at Home' in 2011, we hoped there would be immediate action. But here we are two years later and we still have to wait even longer for what should be considered common sense: the people who come into our homes to care for our loved ones should be licensed and held to the highest standards."

The report that Soofer refers to was prepared for the California Senate Rules Committee at the request of the Senate Health Committee. Its findings prompted action but, in some advocates' minds, the action has not been quick enough. According to the study's two-year-old findings, California "does license home health agencies, which provide skilled nursing at home in conjunction with a plan prescribed by a doctor. But agencies that place caregivers who help with activities of daily living - such as bathing, toileting, dressing, walking and eating - do not require anything more than a business license. Individuals who offer these services in newspaper classified ads or Internet services such as Craigslist are similarly free of state oversight."

Salamati says that "we know the elderly population is increasing dramatically in California and throughout the nation. We have known this population boom was coming for decades and we know that more and more people will be seeking long-term care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Many people, however, also want to stay at home for as long as possible and bring caregivers into their homes for assistance. This area of healthcare is bound to continue to grow and thankfully the government is recognizing the need for strict regulation."

Soofer concludes by saying "if your elderly loved has been mistreated, abused or neglected by a home healthcare aide, in-home assistant, or a nurse, you need elder abuse attorneys on your side. Sean and I are ready to help and explain how the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013 may offer protection. We can also explain what the consequences may be if an in-home care provider fails to adhere to the regulations."

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