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Press Releases

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03/06/2020

Homemaker Companion Agency Cases at Consumer Protection Increase in 2019

Department of Consumer Protection works to educate consumers, and dedicate resources to improve compliance in homemaker companion industry

Friday, March 6th, 2020 – The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) has seen an increase in cases about homemaker companion agencies and is urging the public to be aware of the rules, and their rights if they find themselves in a situation where they require a homemaker companion.

 

Here’s what families should know:

 

  • Homemaker companion agencies are not authorized to do health care work and may not advertise services as if they are. Homemaker companions can help with basic home tasks such as preparing meals. If you need someone to help with heath care services such as dispensing of prescriptions, or to provide care for specific conditions like dementia, you should use a home health care agency, which should be licensed by the Department of Public Health.
  • Homemaker companion agencies are registered by DCP. To verify a credential, visit www.elicense.ct.gov. Individual homemaker companions do not have a credential, only the overarching agency.
  • You must have a contract. Homemaker companion agencies are required to provide a contract within seven (7) days of the first service.
  • Agencies conduct background checks. Homemaker companion agencies are required to conduct background checks on prospective employees. Before you commit to having a specific person in your home, you may ask to see their background check.
  • Homemaker companion agencies can be structured in two ways. Homemaker companion agencies can be employer-based, or registry based. In an employer-based model, an agency employs staff that come into your home. In a registry model, you are the employer, and depending upon the agency you work with, you may require additional insurance or may need to pay certain taxes.

For more information about what you should do if you need to hire a homemaker companion, review DCP’s guide, Homemaker Companion Agencies: A Guide for Consumers.

 

DCP’s case numbers for the previous three years are:

 

Year

Cases

2017

39

2018

56

2019

75

 

“When families are in a position where they have to hire a homemaker companion, they may have to act quickly out of necessity,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “That’s why it’s so important for us to do what we can to ensure that the public is educated about their rights and responsibilities when hiring homemaker companions. We encourage anyone who has questions, or complaints to contact our agency.”

 

“Protecting the rights of individuals in long-term care settings and supporting choice to live in the community, means making sure they are fully informed regarding all aspects of their care. We want to ensure individuals have access to tools that educate them on what to look for when hiring anyone coming into their home, including homemaker companions. The resources the Department of Consumer Protection provides do just that. They are clear and they have been a great source of information,” said Mairead Painter, State Long Term Care Ombudsman and Co-Chair of the Coalition for Elder Justice in Connecticut.

 

“When hiring a homemaker companion, consumers want to be especially careful that they find a trustworthy company to look after their loved one. That’s why BBB urges consumers to utilize free tools like BBB.org to read reviews and complaints on home care companies before they hire. BBB shares the mission of the Connecticut Coalition for Elder Justice and DCP in preventing possible abuse to vulnerable individuals who are in the care of a homemaker companion,” said Luke Frey, Assistant Director of Communications at the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut.

DCP has worked hard to dedicate more staff time to this important issue, and has testified in favor of Senate Bill 125, that would make some helpful updates to homemaker companion agency requirements.

 

Consumers who need to file a complaint or have questions are encouraged to contact our complaint center by emailing dcp.complaints@ct.gov, or by visiting ct.gov/dcp/complaint.

 

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Media Contact:
Lora Rae Anderson
lorarae.anderson@ct.gov
(860) 713-6019 (office)
(860) 247-8711 (cell)

 

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