Families choose unlicensed home care

With elderly patients increasingly dealing with major health issues at home, getting skilled home care in place has never been more important. Such care might cost $150,000 a year when provided by an agency offering bonded, insured and certified home health aides. But with Medicare limiting how much of such care it will pay for, few can afford these more-qualified helpers. Instead, middle-class families are turning to informal networks of unlicensed, untrained and unsupervised home care workers to care for fragile elderly patients. These gray market workers make perhaps $12 an hour, while agencies might charge $20 an hour for the same service. Elder care advocates are arguing for better training and peer mentoring programs to improve their judgment. But right now there seems to be only one training program in the country for gray-market aides, at the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education at the University of Arkansas. For $275, the school offers a 119-hour curriculum for independent home-care contractors.

To get more background on this trend:
- read this New York Times article

PLUS: Texas is considering a measure which imposes stricter limits on who elder care agencies and facilities can hire. Article