Home Care Agencies

Home care agencies provide non-medical services to ill, disabled, or vulnerable people with functional limitations, enabling them to maintain their highest level of independence and remain in their homes.

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About Home Care Agencies

Home care agencies provide non-medical services to people with functional limitations. Examples of non-medical services include:

  • Activities of daily living, such as assistance with ambulation, transferring, bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and personal hygiene to facilitate self-care;
  • Homemaking such as assistance with ordinary housework, essential shopping, meal preparation, and travel to medical services; and
  • Respite care such as assistance and support provided to the family;

The Department of Health licenses home care agencies to ensure care is provided within health and safety standards established by statute and rule. The department enforces the standards by periodically conducting unannounced on-site surveys of these agencies.

Some home care agencies contract with the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide services to Medicaid-eligible people in need of home-based services. These contracted agencies are surveyed by Area Agency on Aging (AAA) staff members using standards equivalent to the departments for evaluating the care and services provided. For more information on contracting with DSHS, please contact your local AAA at 1-800-562-3263 or the Division of Developmental Disabilities at 1-800-562-3022.

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Current topics

New - Notice of Emergency Rule filing - The Department of Health (department) adopted an emergency rule (PDF) clarifying that all health care facilities licensed by the department must comply with state and federal statutes, administrative rules, lawful orders, and other legal requirements relating to the operation of the facility and the control or prevention of the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including orders issued by the Governor, by the Secretary of Health, by a local board of health, and by a local health officer. The new rule applies to all health care facilities licensed by the department, which includes: Acute Care Hospitals, Ambulatory Surgical Facilities, Behavioral Health Agencies, Birthing Centers, In-Home Services Agencies, Medical Test Sites, Psychiatric Hospitals, and Residential Treatment Facilities.

Updated licensing rules - The in-home services licensing rules, chapter 246-335 WAC, have been updated. The department thanks licensees and stakeholders who participated in the eight public rules workshops and assisted department staff members in crafting the updated rule language. The new rules took effect April 6, 2018. Learn more on the Updated Rules webpage.

Home Care Aide Certification - On November 8, 2011, the public voted Initiative 1163 (PDF) into law. The new law relates to requirements for long-term care worker training, background checks and certification as home care aides. The new requirements took effect January 7, 2012. See the department's Home Care Aide webpage for more information.