The Pennsylvania Department of Health has published final regulations requiring every home care agency or registry to apply for a license from the department's Division of Home Health before providing "home care services" directly or through independent contractors. The regulations became effective December 12, 2009.

Home care services include personal care, assistance with instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), companionship services, respite care, and specialized care that makes it easier for an individual to live independently.

The license application process requires the submission of a substantial amount of information, including a civil rights survey, disclosure of ownership and control interest information, a license survey, and other information about an organization's management and operational policies. The regulations include hiring, training, competency testing, criminal background checks, and TB screening requirements for direct care workers and office staff.

Any home care agency or registry operating as of December 12, 2009, may continue to operate after that date as long as it (1) applies for a license by February 10, 2010, and (2) complies with the new personnel and consumer rights requirements in the new regulations.

A note of caution: All information submitted with an application will be available to the public unless the appropriate claim of confidentiality is made under the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law.