Personal care service providers, like the one who was reportedly caring for a man who died after getting severe burns in scalding bath water, do not require licensing through the state.
Benjamin Reed, 38, died on May 27 — 11 days after a caretaker from A Caring Hand in Boise had drawn Reed a bath that would leave him with third-degree burns over 30% of his body, according to a CBS 2 News report and reported first by the Idaho Statesman.
Reed died at a burn unit in Salt Lake City. He was in stage 4 of Huntington’s Disease, a fatal neurological disorder, Joe Ribich, Reed’s friend of 21 years, told CBS 2 News.
Boise Police started investigating the incident May 16, the day it happened, and the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case. A Caring Hand, the company providing service to Reed, said an internal investigation has been launched and declined to comment further.
Personal care service providers, like Boise-based A Caring Hand, help patients in their home who have physical or functional disabilities. The services do not include housekeeping or skilled nursing care, according to Idaho Administrative Procedures Act.
Personal care service workers are not required to be licensed because they provide a lower level of care, according to Idaho Department of Heath and Welfare spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr.
Though care service providers are not licensed through the state, they must meet training standards set by the Bureau of Long Term Care in the Division of Medicaid. They’re trained in areas of personal care such as bathing, dressing and eating, chores and non-medical transportation. There is not a time requirement set for training, rather that is determined by what services are being provided.
Ribich said the caretaker from A Caring Hand had started watching Reed a few weeks prior to his death. Ribich told CBS 2 the housemates keep the water temperature in their house hotter because they use it frequently. But he said he had given Reed countless baths before and nothing like this had ever happened.
“He needed hands-on help for everything,” Ribich told CBS 2 News. “We fed him, changed his clothing, put him to bed, helped him up.”
Over 12,000 personal care aides work in Idaho, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. The starting wage is about $8.94 per hour, and the median annual salary is $22,000.
If the personal care service facility is a Medicaid provider, like A Caring Hand is, complaints are investigated by a quality assurance team from the Bureau of Long Term Care.
There are 165 active personal assistance agencies throughout the state enrolled for Personal Care Services or Aged and Disabled Services. The quality assurance team does a biannual audit on personal care services enrolled in those services. The state does not track private-pay agencies.
Since Jan. 1, 260 complaints have been made to the Bureau of Long Term Care, though that number includes other facilities such as residential assisted living, certified family homes and adult day health providers, to name a few. There were 111 complaints filed under abuse, neglect or exploitation.
A Caring Hand had 11 complaints filed since Jan. 1, including four of which that were filed by employees against the person they were caring for. Five people filed complaints regarding the service from A Caring Hand, and two complaints were about a caretaker never showing up.
Complaints do come in every month against personal care service providers, but Forbing-Orr said many aren’t related to a patient being in danger.