Last week, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection issued Homemaker Companion Agency Advertising Guidance to all registered home care agencies in Connecticut, prohibiting them from using the word “care.” The Department claims in its guidance that the word suggests medical services that are outside the scope of the registration credential and therefore requires a license from the Department of Public Health.
In the guidance, the Department for the first time recognizes the important work caregivers perform in providing support to clients with memory difficulties and denotes that HCAs can advertise those non-medical services if caregivers are trained accordingly. Additionally, the guidance allows home care agencies to advertise that employees are certified in CPR.
Banning the word “care” goes well beyond HCAOA’s understanding of what the guidance would cover in relation to advertising on national websitesthat operate in Connecticut.
Under the guidance, HCAs that provide services in multiple jurisdictions where the regulations differ from those in Connecticut and advertise services both within and outside Connecticut may advertise services not permissible in Connecticut if and only if: (1) each website page that advertises services not permissible within Connecticut includes a statement reading, “Not all services available in all locations,” and (2) each website page that advertises services not permissible within Connecticut includes a link to a page that details what services are provided by the HCA within the State of Connecticut.
The guidance was promulgated outside the normal regulatory and administrative review process, without any specific statutory authority. It isn’t clear if the guidance has the force and effect of law and what its practical implications will be for agencies. Also, the guidance conflicts with other state laws and policies that recognize the use of the word “care” by home care agencies.
HCAOA is contemplating next steps. The Chapter has already informally complained to Department officials and offered a proposed amendment to key lawmakers to make it clear that agencies can use the word “care” in business names and advertising.