California’s requirements for home health care providers can be found at Home Care Services Bureau (HCSB). Home care organizations must be licensed. An organization that acts as a provider usually takes the form of a partnership, corporation or limited liability company (LLC). The organization must have filed the necessary paperwork to register with the California Secretary of State. It must also perform a background check on health care aides or care workers.
How to Get a California Home Care License
An organization that offers nonmedical services gets a license by completing the application form from the California Department of Social Services. The organization should share important information with the state, including the name, number, mailing address and hours of the facility. The home health care agency must comply with state health and safety codes, and regulations applicable to licensing. It must also operate its facility in compliance with the relevant federal and local laws.
Criminal Background Checks Required
All those subject to fingerprint requirements must have a California Department of Justice clearance or a criminal record exemption before they take a job as a home health aide, live at, or begin to have a presence in the organization.
Other Forms to Complete
A home care organization licensee applicant must complete additional state-mandated forms for a home care business, including the licensee applicant information form. All applicants associated with the business must complete this form, including individuals, each partner in a partnership, or the chief executive officer or authorized representative of a corporation.
The licensee applicant information form asks about the individual’s history of disciplinary action, including past revocations, denials, exclusions and forfeitures against a licensed community care facility or other business that provides home health care services. The licensee applicant information form also asks what actions were taken against the business and how those actions were resolved.
Reporting a Care Facility in the State of California
A person who wants to report a care facility should determine whether the facility is a community care facility, one that offers less than 24-hour nonmedical care and supervision, or a health care facility, which provides care to individuals who require medical care and supervision. Community care facilities are licensed by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). They include child care centers, adult day programs, children’s residential facilities, adult residential facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly.
For a complaint against a community care facility, the person should first try to resolve a minor concern or difference directly with the organization. If the concern is not addressed, and the person thinks the facility is breaking licensing laws, they should proceed with filing a complaint with the California Department of Social Services. A person can file a complaint about a community care facility by calling the Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) hotline at 844-LET-US-NO (844-538-8766). Alternatively, the person can write to the Department of Social Services.
Health care facilities are licensed by the California Department of Public Health. They include chemical dependency recovery hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, skilled nursing facilities and acute psychiatric hospitals. To make a complaint against a health care facility, a person should call or write the California Department of Public Health’s licensing and certification division. For both types of complaints, the reporting party’s name will be anonymous unless they give the respective department permission to use it.
How a Complaint Is Handled
Within 10 days of receiving the complaint, the licensing agency will make an unannounced visit to the facility to investigate the complaint. The licensing agency will later inform the reporting party of the results of the investigation. A person who has questions or concerns in the meantime should contact the local licensing agency.
Starting a Caregiver Business
A founder should start a caregiver business by registering the business with the California Secretary of State. This involves filing the appropriate articles of incorporation for the business with the state. The founder should then apply for a license for the facility and hire home care aides that provide the type of services that fit the facility.
For medical home health care, the business should hire nurses who are experienced in wound care, monitoring bodily functions like blood pressure, and evaluating a patient’s mental health. For nonmedical home care, the business should hire employees who can offer nonmedical day-to-day assistance. Examples include driving a patient to and from doctor’s appointments and cleaning the patient’s house.
Abiding by Zoning Ordinances
A home care organization may be a nonprofit or a business. Whenever a residential facility serves six or fewer persons, the facility is considered to be a residential use of property. The residents are considered a family for the purposes of laws and zoning ordinances that relate to the residential use of property.
A home care organization is required to abide by local regulations regarding zoning. For example, in Riverside County, California, a residential facility that serves six or fewer people must comply with the development standards for one-family or multiple family dwellings located within the same zone. A residential facility that serves seven or more is allowed in other zoning areas with an approved conditional use permit.
Additional Licensing Requirements if Seven or More Residents
A residential facility that serves seven or more people may have additional requirements that are imposed by local zoning ordinances. In Riverside County, these include conforming to the development standards for the zoning classification in which it is located, providing landscaping, and being separated from another licensed residential facility by a minimum of 300 feet. There is an exception to the separation requirement for foster family homes.
Further, a facility that serves seven or more people must provide outdoor lighting and conduct indoor and outdoor activities in compliance with other local regulations. California state law provides that a conditional use permit, zoning variance or other zoning clearance may not be required of a residential facility that serves six or fewer persons if they are not required for a family dwelling. The definition of a family dwelling includes, but is not limited to, single-family dwellings, units in multifamily dwellings, mobile homes, units in cooperatives and condominiums, units in townhouses and units in planned unit developments.
Specialized Types of Care Facilities
Certain types of home health care facilities must abide by additional local regulations that have to do with zoning and building requirements. For example, Riverside County considers a sober living home a residential use of property. A sober living home must observe and promote a zero tolerance policy regarding the consumption or possession of alcohol and controlled substances.
The exception is prescription medications obtained and used under direct medical supervision. The sober living home must have a written policy dealing with the use of drugs or alcohol and maintain current membership in a recognized nonprofit organization of sober living homes. The organization must also provide a credible quality assurance service for applicants or members or have received a sober living home certificate from the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
- California Department of Social Services: Home Care Services
- California Department of Social Services: Home Care Organization Application Process
- California Department of Social Services: CCLD Complaint Hotline
- California Department of Social Services: Application for a Home Care Organization License
- California Department of Social Services: Home Care Organization Licensee Applicant Information
- California Health and Safety Code: Section 1566.3 Community Care Facilities Act Local Regulation
- Municipal Code of Riverside County, California: Chapter 17.272, Community Care Facilities
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.