Understanding Non-Medical Home Care Licenses in Pennsylvania

Caoimhe Walsh

Written on 5 July, 2024
Applying for the right license is crucial when starting a home care business in Pennsylvania. But exactly what license do you need and how do you apply for it?

Understanding Pennsylvania Home Care License Types

The Pennsylvania Department of Health differentiates between home healthcare and non-medical home care. 

Home healthcare providers must apply for a Home Health License. Home care providers, however, should apply for a Home Care Agency/Registry license.

Which Pennsylvania Home Care License Do You Need?

The state defines home health agencies, home care agencies, and registries as:

  • Home health agency: “An organization or part thereof staffed and equipped to provide skilled nursing and at least 1 therapeutic service—physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, medical social services or home health aides—to disabled, aged, injured or sick persons on a part-time or intermittent basis in their place of residence. The term includes an agency that also provides other health-related services to protect and maintain persons in their own homes.”

  • Home care agency: “An organization that supplies, arranges or schedules employees to provide home care services, as directed by the consumer or the consumer’s representative, in the consumer’s place of residence or other independent living environment for which the organization receives a fee, consideration or compensation of any kind.”

  • Home care registry: “An organization or business entity or part of an organization or business entity that supplies, arranges or refers independent contractors to provide home care services, as directed by the consumer or the consumer’s representative, in the consumer’s place of residence or other independent living environment for which the registry receives a fee, consideration or compensation of any kind.”

In plain speech, this means that if you provide home care services or contract caregivers to provide home care services on a client’s behalf, you need to apply for a home care license. But, if you start to provide nursing, medical, or skilled therapeutic services, you will need a home health license instead.

Home care services include personal care, assistance with instrumental activities of daily living, companionship services, respite care, and specialized care. Despite the name, Pennsylvania defines specialized care as a non-skilled service.

How to Apply for a Non-Medical Pennsylvania Home Care License

To apply for your non-medical Pennsylvania home care license, download the application form here (PDF) or here (webpage)

Your application must be typed and mailed to:

Division of Home Health

2525 N. 7th Street

Harrisburg, PA 17110

Applications for non-medical licenses must include a check/money order for $100, made payable to “Commonwealth of PA.” You’ll also need to complete several other forms, including: 

  • Identifying Information of Home Care Agency/Registry

  • Password Agreement

  • Civil Rights Survey

  • Home Care Agency/Registry Licensure Survey 

  • Consumer Notice of Direct Care Worker Status

  • Information Requested of Healthcare Providers Applying for a License to Operate a Healthcare Facility

You’ll find a checklist at the start of the home care agency/registry application form, specifying every form and survey you have to complete.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has also published license application training. It breaks down the most common reasons for denied licenses and how to avoid them. Make sure to review the training guides before mailing off your application.

How Long Is the Pennsylvania Home Care License Application Process?

Normally, the Pennsylvania Home Care Agency/Registry License will be granted within 30 days of application.

However, you should check the Department of Health's website for the most up-to-date information. As of 2024, the department has updated its website to say that initial home care agency/registry applications are taking 2–3 months or longer.

Automating Your Pennsylvania Home Care Business’ Admin

Starting a non-medical home care business involves lots of hard work, but it’s worth it. You won’t just launch your own business. You’ll also make a real difference to the quality of life of older and vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

ShiftCare’s home care agency software enables you to spend less time on admin work, so you can spend more time on what really matters: delivering quality home care. It helps you quickly schedule your team, fill empty shifts, auto-generate invoices, track patient progress, communicate with clients’ loved ones, and more.

Try ShiftCare for free.

How to start a home care business in PA?

To start a home care business in PA, begin by registering your business, applying for your home care agency/registry license, and acquiring a federal tax ID

Who regulates home care agencies in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Department of Health regulates home care agencies (HCAs) and home care registries (HCRs).

How much does Medicaid pay for home health care per hour in PA?

Medicaid hourly rates for home care and home health services in PA are frequently updated, with the most recent rates published in the state’s Medical Assistance fee schedule

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