How to Start a Home Care Business in Pennsylvania: Your Essential Guide (2024)

Heather Pollock

Written on 14 September, 2023
Ever wondered where to begin with setting up a home care agency in Pennsylvania? This is your essential guide to help you navigate the home care licences, certifications and requirements to set up a home care business in the Keystone state.

Disclaimer: This guide is for starting a home care business in Pennsylvania, not a home health care business, as the regulations differ. The information provided should be taken as educational, not legal advice. Please consult with a licensed consultant or a legal professional for accurate, personalized advice when starting your home care business. Laws and regulations can change and may vary depending on your specific circumstances. Always perform thorough due diligence.

Welcome to your essential guide on how to start a home care business in Pennsylvania for 2023. This comprehensive guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to establish and expand a thriving home care agency in the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania, with its significant aging population, offers a golden opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs like yourself. The need for high-quality, trustworthy home care services is on the rise, positioning this industry as a prospective avenue for business growth.

Starting a home care business comes with its own set of challenges, and our guide is here to demystify them. We offer straightforward, practical advice, steering clear of unnecessary technicalities. This guide will walk you through the particular steps and requirements unique to Pennsylvania, offering actionable strategies for growth while keeping the tone both encouraging and motivating.

So, let's embark on this business journey together!

Read this Guide First: How to Start a Home Care Business

Before we delve into the specifics of Pennsylvania, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with our Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Home Care Business. This primer will equip you with foundational knowledge applicable across any state, making the Pennsylvania-specific details easier to navigate.

Understanding Home Care in Pennsylvania

Before starting a home care agency in Pennsylvania, it’s essential that you understand the opportunities and challenges of the industry, along with the regulations controlling it.

The Benefits of Starting a Home Care Agency or Registry in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania ranks 5th out of all 50 states for the number of older Americans living there. Home care agencies are vital to helping older Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvanians with disabilities live more comfortable, independent, and fulfilling lives. 

What’s more, in good news for home care agencies, Pennsylvania is prioritizing aged care. The state boasts a Department of Aging that is currently creating a ten-year Master Plan for Older Adults.

Do I Need Home Care Training in Pennsylvania to Get a Home Care License in Pennsylvania? 

While you don’t need training to obtain a home care license in Pennsylvania, it will enable you and your team to provide a higher standard of care.

It's also important to note that it's a state requirement that an Administrator and Alternately qualified individual runs the home care business. This person should have a GED and pass a background check. 

This article will help you understand the Pennsylvania regulations when starting this process of applying for your home care license in Pennsylvania, but please remember to do other due diligence and research into the state regulations as they can change.

Before You Try to Get a Home Care License in Pennsylvania, Be Sure It's a Home Care License You Need

The Pennsylvania Department of Health treats home health and home care services differently. If you want to start a home health business, you’ll need to apply for a home health agency license. A home care agency/registry license, which is what we’ll focus on in this article, is only valid for a non-medical home care business in Pennsylvania.

Laying the Foundation for Your Home Care Business

Identifying Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) 

Your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is the factor that distinguishes your home care business from competitors. It could be a specific service you offer, a high level of expertise in a certain area, or even your approach to patient care.

Consider what makes your homecare business stand out. Is it your staff's exceptional training or the range of services you offer? Perhaps it's the personalized care plans you create for each client. Your USP is what will attract clients to your business instead of choosing a competitor. Business News Daily has a great article to guide you through the process of defining your USP for your homecare agency and private care services.

Deciding How Your Pennsylvania Home HealthCare Agency Will Be Taxed (Sole Proprietorship vs. LLC) 

The next step is deciding on the legal structure of your home care business. Your choice between a Sole Proprietorship or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) will affect how your business is taxed, your personal liability, and the way you run your business.

Each structure has pros and cons; the right choice depends on your circumstances. It's recommended to consult with a business advisor or attorney to understand which is best for you. The Pennsylvania Department of State has a guide that explains the business structures in detail. 

Establishing Your Home Care Business in Pennsylvania

After finalizing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and choosing your business's legal framework, the next step is to formally establish your business. This involves registering your home care agency with the state of Pennsylvania, acquiring a Federal Tax ID, and securing the necessary permits and licenses.

To participate in the Medicare program, a home health agency must be certified by the CMS, which involves meeting federal requirements for patient care and services as well as passing an inspection.

The Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop serves as a valuable resource for finding information about the specific permits and licenses required for operating in the state. Additionally, consulting a business attorney is advisable to ensure you're in full legal compliance.

Remember, embarking on this path is the first milestone in a fulfilling journey. Take adequate time to plan and set the stage right, as this will lay the foundation for the successful growth of your home care business.

Setting Up Your Operations Center

Your operations center is the hub of your home care business in Pennsylvania. This is where you'll handle administrative work, offer staff training, conduct meetings, and manage other essential activities.

The location you choose should be easily accessible and offer a professional ambiance for meetings. Space should be sufficient to accommodate your team comfortably.

Part of your operations plan should also consider the software and tools you’ll need to effectively manage your home care agency. Consider specialized home care software for appointment scheduling, payroll, and client record-keeping. The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers can provide valuable resources to assist you in setting up your operations center.

Does My Pennsylvania Home Care Business Need an Office?

Although much of your caregivers’ work will be performed at clients' residences, having a designated office space for your home care business can offer advantages. An office space lends a professional setting for staff briefings, client consultations, and routine administrative duties.

However, the necessity for an office can depend on the scale of your operations and the range of services you offer. For example, if you're a smaller home health agency focused on a limited geographic area, you may initially function without a dedicated office. Always be aware of any local or state regulations that may require an office for licensing purposes.

Developing Your Business Plan

A robust business plan serves as your home care business's guiding star. This document should articulate your objectives, the means by which you intend to meet them, your marketing approach, and financial forecasts.

This plan will inform your daily operations and enable you to make well-founded decisions. If you're contemplating seeking external funding, be it from a bank or investors, a compelling business plan is crucial.

Key sections to include in your business plan are the executive summary, a description of your home health agency, market research, your organizational and managerial structure, a detailed list of care services, your marketing and sales tactics, and your financial projections. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers an extensive guide on crafting a business plan for your home care agency.

Remember that your business plan is a living document; as your home health care agency evolves, so should your plan. Make it a practice to review and update it regularly to reflect your business's current state and future aspirations.

Setting Up the Legal and Financial Structure

Insuring Your Home Care Business in Pennsylvania

Business insurance is essential for responsible ownership, especially in the home care industry. Carefully check the terms and conditions of the insurance policy before you take it out so you can rest assured that you’re fully covered.

Obtaining Your Tax ID and EIN Number to Start Your Home Care Business

You’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) before you can begin hiring staff or applying for your licenses. If you apply online, you’ll receive it instantly. While your EIN counts as your federal tax ID, you’ll also need a Pennsylvania state tax ID. In most cases, you receive this on completing your Business Tax Registration via myPATH

Pennsylvania Home Care Policies and Procedures

Pennsylvania’s home care policies and procedures are all available on the Department of Health website. The most important ones for home care businesses are:

  • The Health Care Facilities Act

  • Chapter 51 of the regulations for health care facilities

  • Chapter 611 of the regulations for home care agencies/registries, a copy of which should be printed and kept on hand at your place of business in line with the conditions of your home care license

Obtaining Licenses and Permits

You’ll need the right licenses to operate as a home care agency or registry. Let’s break those down.

Home Care License Requirements in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state regulations for home health care distinguish between home care agencies and home care registries. While both need the same home care license, make sure you correctly select the right category. 

Chapter 611 of the regulations for home care agencies/registries provides a technical definition of agencies and registries. A general rule of thumb, however, is that agencies employ caregivers while registries connect clients with independent contractors.

Obtaining a Pennsylvania Home Care License

Getting a Pennsylvania home care license requires reading the relevant regulations, signing a $100 check, and filing in the Identifying Information of Home Care Agency/Registry, Password Agreement form, Civil Rights Survey, Home Care Agency/Registry Licensure Survey and Information Requested of Healthcare Providers Applying for a License to Operate a Healthcare Facility form. 

You’ll also need to include the documentation listed on each form or survey, including your Department of State business registration confirmation and Proof of EIN. All these regulations, forms, and surveys are available here.

Check the Department of Health’s home care agency license FAQ if you have any questions.

Obtain Local Business Licensure and Prepare to Open Your Home Care Business

Business license requirements vary across Pennsylvania. Make sure you’ve completed your Business Tax Registration via myPATH. Then, check your local government website to discover if you need additional licenses.

Building Your Team

The core of your home care business in Pennsylvania lies in your team—providing essential services to clients and becoming the face of your business in the community. Assembling a reliable, skilled team of caregivers requires focused recruitment, comprehensive training, and streamlined payroll systems.

Recruiting and Training Your Staff of Non-Medical and Medical Professionals

Hiring caregivers for your home care agency demands candidates who are not only reliable but have a genuine passion for caregiving. Home care aides should possess dependability, compassion, and a versatile skill set to cater to different needs.

There are various channels to consider for home care aide recruitment: online job boards, local classified ads, or even specialized healthcare job fairs. You might also consider collaborating with local educational institutions that offer home care training programs.

Once your caregiver team is in place, training is paramount. This involves instruction in specific job skills, your company's policies, and adherence to Pennsylvania state regulations. In Pennsylvania, home care aides are typically required to undergo specific training and may need to be certified depending on the services offered.

For additional guidelines, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is a good resource.

Hiring Staff and Setting Up Payroll in Pennsylvania

After recruiting your caregivers, setting up an efficient payroll system is the next crucial step. This entails finalizing salaries, setting a consistent payment schedule, and ensuring correct tax withholdings.

You might opt to use payroll software or even hire a dedicated payroll service to manage this for you. If you decide to handle payroll internally, be certain you are familiar with Pennsylvania-specific regulations regarding wages, tax withholdings, and other employment laws. Resources such as the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue can offer helpful guidance.

Legal errors in hiring and payroll can be expensive, so consulting with an HR professional or employment attorney who does speciality work with home health care agencies can help to ensure full compliance, is advised.

Marketing and Growth Strategies

Starting your home care business is only the beginning. You’ll also need to make sure you focus on marketing your home health agency. The following step involves attracting clients and scaling your services.

Marketing Your Home Care Services

Effective marketing is essential for making an impression in the home care space and distinguishing yourself in a crowded market of home care agencies. Strategies may include establishing an effective online presence, capitalizing on local partnerships, and advertising.

But marketing for a home care business extends beyond simply promoting your services. You need to understand your prospective clients' specific needs, formulate a resonant brand message, and compile a marketing plan that unifies all these elements into a cohesive, efficient home care marketing strategy.

Given the importance and intricacy of marketing, we've compiled an entire guide on the subject. We strongly recommend consulting our Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Home Care Agency for comprehensive advice on how to entice and retain clients, boost your community visibility, and stay competitive.

Feel free to bookmark this guide as a valuable reference while you fine-tune and implement your marketing strategy.

Also check out these helpful articles for marketing your home care agency:

10 Tips and Strategies for Social Media for Your Home Care Business

Google Business Profile for Home Care Agencies

How to Build a Great Website for Home Care Agencies

Professional Help and Resources

Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop

The Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop is a state government resource. Its library includes guides on everything from business planning to accessing state funding, plus it holds regular events.

Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Customer Service Center

The Department of Revenue’s website, and particularly its Customer Service Center, will help you keep track of your tax obligations. 

Pennsylvania Homecare Association

The Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) produces educational resources and events, interprets policy, and advocates for home care and home healthcare providers. 

Pennsylvania Foundation for Home Care and Hospice

Run by the PHA, the Pennsylvania Foundation for Home Care and Hospice provides training, education, and grants so that home care and hospice providers can deliver higher-quality care, especially for vulnerable communities.

Pennsylvania Home Care Consultants

A consultant can help your business grow, whether you need support in filing for your home care agency license or in developing a recruitment plan. 

FAQS

What licenses do I need to start a home care business in Pennsylvania?

Before starting a Pennsylvania home care business, you need a state home care agency/registry license. Depending on the city you operate in, you may also need a business license.

How do I get a Pennsylvania home care license?

To get a Pennsylvania home care license, you must submit a home care agency/registry application.

How much is a home care license in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania home care agency/registry license fee is $100.

Do I need a business license for a home-based business in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania business license requirements vary according to the city and council. Home-based businesses should check the local government website to discover which license they need. 

How do I become a home care provider in Pennsylvania?

Become a home care provider in Pennsylvania by applying for your home care agency/registry license and relevant business licenses.

How much do home care providers get paid in Pennsylvania?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for home health and personal care aides in Pennsylvania is $28,750 or $13.82 an hour.

Can a non-resident start a business in Pennsylvania?

Non-residents can start a business in Pennsylvania by registering as a foreign corporation with the state department. To do so, file a Foreign Registration Statement (form DSCB:15-412), along with a Docketing Statement.

How long does it take to get a business license in Pennsylvania?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, it can take up to 15 business days to process business license applications.

Final Thoughts on Starting Your Home Care Business in Pennsylvania 

Launching your Pennsylvania home care business involves plenty of paperwork. However, you’ll reap the benefits as you build a profitable business that makes a real difference to people’s quality of life.

Ready to Simplify Your Home Care Journey in Pennsylvania?

You've learned the ins and outs of establishing a home care business in the Keystone State. Now, streamline your operations and provide a higher standard of care with the right tools. Start your free trial with ShiftCare and see how easy it is to manage caregivers, clients, and compliance. 

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