Thursday, October 09, 2008

Senior Services Vetted & Arrayed

On October 2, 2008, a Press Release entitled "SeniorChecked Tackles Crimes Against Seniors With New Technology", as posted on MarketWatch, announced SeniorChecked, a new commercial service based in Bethesda, Maryland, to be provided initially in the Washington, D.C. area.

It is "designed to take the guesswork out of selecting a trustworthy service provider for vulnerable seniors."

The Web-based tool provides independent and unbiased third party review of companies and employees who serve senior citizens in their homes in order to combat the rise in elder abuse, financial exploitation and crimes against seniors.
See the same Press Release as posted on PRWeb.

This new online service promotes itself as a means "to combat the rise in elder abuse, financial exploitation and crimes against seniors * * * [that] takes in about $100 billion a year." However, the service more resembles a business rating system supported by fees from the rated providers.

The service aims to vet and verify businesses that serve senior citizens, and then post the reviews or ratings publicly on its website.
Companies voluntarily submit applications to be SeniorChecked and are required to have employees with senior contact undergo thorough local and national background checks.

Companies are reviewed in four areas: Licensing, Insurance/Crime bond, Financial, and Criminal/Lawsuits. * * *
Reports about providers will be free for consumers to access online, but the listed providers bearing a rating must pay an annual fee.

This is not the only service of its kind; and we can expect more.

CaregiverList, another private service, promotes the Caregiverlist’s Standards of Quality for Senior Home Care Agencies, which are based upon a "Senior Home Care Agency Checklist":
There are no national licensure requirements for non-medical Senior Home Care Agencies.

requires participating Senior Home Care Agencies to meet a Checklist of standards which industry professionals view as necessary requirements for safety and consistency in care [which include:]
  • Business license and necessary state licensure (if required by the state where the agency is located)
  • Caregivers are “Employees” (this means the Agency is responsible for paying all employee payroll taxes, as required by law: Unemployment Insurance tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax and State and Federal with-holdings)
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Fidelity Bond Insurance (this is sometimes referred to as “theft” insurance)
  • Active Management of the Caregiver through a direct Supervisor or Manager
  • Plan of Care
  • Criminal Background Check performed on all Employees
  • Training for Caregivers
  • 24-Hour On-Call Service
  • Satisfactory Caregiverlist Survey Results
Another private online service is CareGrade, which offers users an opportunity to "[f]ind unbiased information on Home Health Care, Assisted Living, Care Managers and more. . ." operating in each state, including Pennsylvania.

Specifically the senior providers graded by this service include:

  • Home Health Care
  • Hospice
  • Assisted Living
  • Medical Equipment
  • Adult Day Care
  • Elder Law Attorney
  • Care Manager
  • Scooters
  • Nursing Home
  • Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
  • Emergency Response System
In Pennsylvania, a more localized service began operation in January, 2008 under the name TodaysSeniorResource, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette entitled "Web site a source for senior citizens" (03/19/08) by Virginia Linn.
[A] new Web site -- -- went online to provide an independent, one-stop shop for information for seniors -- whether it's looking for special transportation or how to create a living will or the availability of $40 coupons to help pay for converter boxes for their TVs when analog signals switch to digital early next year.

Ms. [Cheryl] Nemanic of Plum [, PA] said it took her about a year to pull all the information together, which covers senior and caregiver resources in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Westmoreland and Washington counties. * * *

Although there are other Web sites in the region that provide information for seniors, most are run by specific companies or programs that focus on their own services. * * *

This Western Pennsylvania website does not provide screening or rating of vendors or providers, and listing is open to all senior-related services.

Businesses or programs have the option of paying a fee to get a more prominent listing on the site, but the aim is to simply help cover the cost of operating the site, not to tarnish the site's integrity.

"Hopefully, it will not take away from the fact that everybody is or can be listed," she said. * * *

It is good that such online services increasingly provide information targeted to the needs of seniors. Data is the base of the pyramid that leads ultimately to action.

However, in this sensitive area of senior services, more than one reference source should be consulted to assemble an accurate, unbiased, current portrayal of a provider's character and capabilities.