FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long has the business been in existence?
We started as White Glove in 1992, but we were forced to close the business after 16 years after the State of New Jersey allowed the licensure of an out of state business to operate under the same name and for the same line of business. Consequently, we have trademarked a new entity named ICONNEL to continue the legacy of helping our clients to maintain their freedom by providing icon personnel, the best domestic workers in the industry.
What are the hours of operation?
Our business hours are from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5.00 pm. We also have an emergency line for our clients that they can call 24 a day 7 days a week. (Number is available through our main phone number 646-415-8818).
How far in advance do arrangements have to be made?
All we need is 24 hour’s notice.
What is a certified home health aide?
In New York, certified home health aides are referred to as either home health workers or personal care workers depending on the scope of duties. New York doesn’t license or certify home health aides, but require that home health aides undergo 75 hours of instructional training (Medicare and Medicaid) by a state-approved training entity. The state also differentiates “certified” home health care agencies from home health care agencies. “Certified” agencies accept Medicare, and home health care agencies do not. New York State maintains a registry of workers. Both types of home health care agencies (certified and non-certified) must be employed by a home health care agency and be supervised by a registered professional nurse. A home health care worker or personal care worker must work for a licensed agency. The licensed agency is also responsible for performing the criminal background check of their employees.
In Pennsylvania, a certified home health aide is referred to as a “home health aide” and like New York does not certify people of this profession. Likewise, Pennsylvania’s reference to agencies as being “certified” applies to only those agencies who accept Medicare payments. A home health aide is a non-professional person who has completed a minimum of 60 hours of classroom instruction (75 hours for Certified agencies) prior to or during the first 3 months of employment. The term includes aids who are carefully trained in methods of assisting patients to achieve maximum self-reliance, principles of nutrition and meal preparation, the aging process and emotional problems of illness, changes in patient’s condition that should be reported, work of the agency and the health team, ethics, confidentiality and record keeping. A home health aide in Pennsylvania can work under her own company, with a home health agency or through a clinic or hospital. Sometimes a home health aide is assisted by a nurse, but most times she handles the patient's daily needs herself.
We do not provide services in New Jersey.
What is a Companion?
Although most people refer to companions as people who keep a person in need company, the states of New York and Pennsylvania do not have a legal definition of the term. ICONNEL refers to companions as domestic employee placement service individuals who keep an elderly person company but does not provide care or assistance in a way, or does not require contact with the person in any way (such as medication, bathing, lifting or transferring.) In New York, the legal term for this is would be a homemaker.
What services does ICONNEL offer?
ICONNEL currently offers both Private Duty Domestic Employees, who - depending on the particular state - may be called companions, housekeepers, caregivers, and personal assistants. Direct hire allows you to be the employer, and save money, whereas the agency service may be more suitable for long-term care insurance policy requirements because of the highly structured institutional style caregiving arrangement which is favored by regulators and accreditors alike.
Why can't I hire a private duty companion in NJ?
NJ has made it illegal to hire a companion, housekeeper, or aide of any kind through an agency unless the client is under 60. Therefore we no longer provide any direct hiring services in New Jersey.
How can I find a caregiver by myself?
New York and New Jersey have institutionalized home care. In other words, it is still legal to hire someone to care for you or your family as your private employee, but you have to do it completely by yourself. The law specifically prohibits you from utilizing an employment agency to hire someone to provide caring or assisted duties. For New Jersey, it is illegal to hire a caregiver through an agency from ANY state if the care is provided in New Jersey. Employment agencies in New York and New Jersey are only allowed to provide you personnel who do not provide “care” such as housekeepers, and non-assisting companions and homemakers Anyone who performs care tasks in New York and New Jersey is required to be an employee of the agency. Pennsylvania does not have this requirement.
Is ICONNEL bonded and insured?
Yes. Many businesses would just give you quick and tricky answer and continue to the next question. We prefer to tell you what this exactly means. Every Licensed Agency needs to carry a Licensing Bond, depending on the license usually: $1,000-10,000.
Many businesses that have employees working in the field also carry Dishonesty Bonds usually for $10,000.
We have only Licensing Bonds. We also used to have Dishonesty Bonds when we had field employees working for ICONNEL. Now we carry only Licensing Bonds because we do not have field employees anymore. They work directly for the client.
The key point to understand about bonding or insuring is that such things do not reduce risk to the Client. Peace of mind is compensated for only in monetary terms, but the harm done to a client may be irreversible. (We’re talking about people, not about renting cars) ICONNEL spends most of its time and effort to locate the right person for your needs.
My family who needs care is in New Jersey. Is it safer to get a certified home health aide?
Not necessarily! It is safer to hire the right person, regardless of their credentials. Although the State of New Jersey implies the opposite, “certified home health aides” otherwise known by the State of New Jersey as “Certified Home-maker home health aides” (CHHHA) is simply a confusing and misunderstood term for what the State believes is a qualified caregiver. It is ICONNEL’s position that a “certified home-maker home health aide” does NOT imply a safer situation for you and your loved one by any means. ICONNEL believes that all institutionalized regulations in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania maintain a very low standard for “certification.” We constantly receive many calls from applicants who are referred to us from welfare, unemployment, and parole offices. We even found cases where the candidates received state certification even though they were not authorized to work under Federal Government regulations.
How are home health aides recruited?
We only accept candidates who have a minimum of two years experience referred to us by reliable sources. Our aides must have a completely clean record and meet our standards for a compassionate and willing attitude. Some candidates present to us certification credentials, diplomas, and several references in writing etc…but only 10% of them meet ICONNEL standards. We follow our own expertise before we present them to our clients. (For example, if someone meets ICONNEL standards and also retains a valid CHHHA certificate in New Jersey, we are prohibited by law from advertising this specific credential to you. )
What is the length of their training and experience?
Every person applying for a job at ICONNEL has to present at least two years of experience working as a domestic employee. Our candidates have an average of five to ten years of experience. We make an exception on an occasion, but all clients will be privy to such exceptions. We do not provide formal training, but we continuously test each candidate’s knowledge. Our experience also shows that the length of training or other credentials do not necessarily demonstrate a potential candidate's actual knowledge or ability. We also have access to a network of RNs who also provides with professional opinions to determine whether they are capable of handling ICONNEL’s strict standards.
Is ICONNEL licensed and bonded?
Yes, we are licensed and bonded.
Does the agency have references for each candidate?
All of our candidates have references. Most of the references are from our previous ICONNEL clients, not strangers. Clients receive complete information regarding the hired person’s previous work experience that we have on file.
Does the agency do background checks?
In CT, ICONNEL does background checks. In NY and PA, ICONNEL only provides you information regarding social security number verification, sex offender checks, and home health aide license certification (if applicable). ICONNEL finds much more value from observing their moral standards during our relationship with them. In addition, the average experience of our candidates is over 10 years, and their maturity level is significantly higher on average when compared to a certified home health aide. We have found instances of unreliable and inaccurate background information through these checks.
Does ICONNEL have candidates available on a live-in basis? Part-time? Full time?
We have personnel who are available for Part-time, Full-time or on a Live-in basis, and substitutes for weekends and Holidays. Hourly and Part Time Live-ins are currently not available in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
Do live-ins require a separate bedroom?
Separate rooms are not required but many workers will not take a live-in position without having a separate bedroom. Each of our pre-screened candidates is hard-working people, and we believe that they need a comfortable place to rest in order to do a good job.
What hours (and how many hours) are the candidates available for work during the day, at night, and/or on weekends?
We have many candidates available with a variety of schedules in order to match your needs to the best of our abilities. ICONNEL requires that the hours be the same every day to keep operating costs to a minimum for your benefit.
What are the minimum and/or maximum hours that can be arranged?
There is no limit to the number of hours that can be arranged. However, there is generally a 20-hour minimum (4 hours a day 5 days a week). Hourly workers are available only in the five boroughs of New York City.
What is the recommended policy on healthy work and rest balance for Live-in companions?
Taking into consideration that waking up once or twice during the night is normal, and getting up 4 times in a single night has health, mental, and physical consequences to a companion, we recommend the following policy:
The CLIENT understands that the total hours worked for a live-in day companion should be equivalent to eight (8) hours while being available for duty 24 hours. In addition, the CLIENT understands that the live-in companion is generally entitled to a minimum of eight (8) hours of sleep, four (4) consecutive hours, and two (2) hours total of personal time during any twenty-four (24) hour period. The CLIENT also agrees that the companion is entitled (at minimum) to a snack or meal after six (6) hours of in-service activity.
How much can the aide lift?
A 48kg class of women's Olympic World Champion can only lift 216 pounds. Our aides come close to it, but they will not be able to lift weights continuously.
What are the domestic worker's usual job duties?
Clients have the freedom to design their private hire’s duties accordingly to the Client's changing needs. The duties of your independent domestic worker are not limited by any certification or union programs. Consequently, ICONNEL's Domestic Duty Personnel Placement Service allows the Client to receive cost-effective personalized help with substantially less paperwork and cost.
According to New York State Law, Domestic Workers who are placed by an agency can do everything but “care” for the Client or “Assist” the client in any way. Therefore, candidates placed through ICONNEL are limited to perform duties such as medication reminders, cooking, light housekeeping, laundry, shopping, keeping the client company amongst others.
Can the workers be asked to perform additional duties?
We understand job descriptions may change. In any situation, it is always a good idea to confirm any extra duties directly with the employee of the Client. Please understand that we cannot be privy to any duties related to “care” or “assistance”.
What are the domestic worker's records for punctuality and attendance?
ICONNEL’s candidates are very reliable when it comes to attendance and punctuality. They are expected to be on time every day regardless of the circumstances. We know that clients get very frustrated even over a couple of minutes.
Do the workers have their own cars or do they rely on public transportation?
Most of the candidates who we have available on an hourly basis have their own car. Most live-in candidates do not have driver's licenses or cars. Others who have driver's licenses and are able to drive the client’s car.
Will you be required to provide transportation after certain nighttime hours?
It is up to the client and their employee to determine who provides transportation. Candidates usually do not ask to have transportation provided at any time unless otherwise agreed between the client and candidate.
Will you have to pay for car fare?
It is up to the client and their employee to determine who pays for transportation on behalf of their employee.
If the worker calls in sick or doesn't show up, will a substitute be available? If so, how soon?
If your employee calls in sick, we will do everything possible to identify and send out an alternate person as soon as possible.
If there is dissatisfaction with the domestic employee whom we hired, will a substitute be available? If so, how soon?
If the client is not happy with the worker, another worker will be available within 24 to 48 hours depending on the circumstances and the nature of the job.
Are domestic workers hired directly by the patient, the family, or through the agency?
All ICONNEL registered domestic candidates work under the arrangement of a direct hiring agreement between the client and the candidate. Therefore, domestic workers are also compensated directly by the Client.
Why does your agency charge a fee?
ICONNEL charges a fee to stay open so that we can achieve our mission to serve you. We pre-screen the candidates, help you with any replacements, and provide you guidance and invaluable advice based on several years of experience. There are several aspects of what we do which is based on our altruistic principals, but ultimately, we have bills to pay just like you.
Why does your fee cost $110 per week for a live-in and $55 per week for a part-time placement?
As an example, the homemakers historically have earned about $1050 to $2100 per week based on a 7 day week. Our fees represent only 5 to 10% for a live-in. That's up to 70% less expensive than Medicare's administrative costs, and 20-30% less expensive than any licensed home health care agency. We are a small, efficient operation and our guiding principles focus on the allocation of your precious savings towards actual care. We can barely keep our lights on but as Catholic Secular Order Franciscans, our work is considered a charitable vocation.
How come there are other agencies who do not charge a fee?
While there are other agencies who do not charge the client any placement fees, we are aware in many cases, that those agencies are charging candidates fees, some more extraneous than others. Agencies who charge their own candidates are obligated to find satisfactory jobs in exchange for the fees collected. In comparison, ICONNEL clearly defines the Client as the person(s) in need of someone who can perform domestic duties, not the candidate in need of a job. ICONNEL does the hard work of filtering out incompetent candidates and present you only with the best people available in this industry. In addition, ICONNEL is under no obligation to find any of its registered candidates a job because we do not charge them fees, nor do we hire them, employ them, or manage them in any way that would violate employment law. Each candidate works directly for the client.
Can the interview with the candidate be done at my house?
Yes - as soon as you complete all necessary paperwork prior to the interview. Please note that the interview is not necessary with our guarantee. The more information you provide us with your needs, the more accurately we can send you the right person from the very beginning. The guarantee allows you to request a different candidate at any time so that you can terminate employment with your existing personnel. This is how we keep our costs down. All these savings are simply passed onto you.
What risks are there if I just hire someone from another person I know?
Hiring help through someone you know, (e.g. local travel agent, pharmacist, doctor, bookstore, butcher, neighbor, friend, or acquaintance) who also charges you or the job hunter a fee may be dangerous, especially if the agent is operating illegally without proper licenses. What is "easy money" for them could be a life-bearing risk to the person who needs the help and a greater financial risk to you. In addition, hiring a certified home health aide represented and compensated by a licensed home health care agency does not guarantee a safe arrangement. Our professional observation has shown time and time again, that agency employed certified home health aides are paid less than private Domestic Employees, thus, have less incentive to work responsibly. In fact, no regulation, certificate, background check, bonding or insurance of any kind will guarantee the protection of a Senior from harm. Who really knows what goes on when you close the door behind you when leaving the elderly alone with the helper?
This is why the most important aspect of providing trustworthy and reliable domestic personnel services is to select the right person and to revalidate the selection process with as many people as possible. We help you with this by providing you with our input and expertise represented by over 30 years of combined experience from our agents who work together.
Some mistakes that can put your elderly family member in jeopardy are as follows:
Beware of interviewing in your home, especially if the Agent is unlicensed. A person who claims to be the "agent" typically brings people in a car for you to meet. Having several strangers in your house can be intimidating and dangerous. It is often difficult to verify credentials when they are already in your house.
Beware of companion and aides who are getting too close emotionally to your elderly relatives. Many are sincere, but your intervention with the companion during his/her employment is critical in maintaining an arm's length relationship where appropriate. (In other words, don't just protect your elderly, protect your will and estate!)
Manage your worker and manage finances separately. If you keep a checkbook or credit card in the house, make sure that there are limited funds in the account. We don't recommend having a checkbook in the house without a contingency plan or a way to reconcile a checkbook by someone else on a daily basis. Certified Aides and Non-Agency Screened “caregivers” can be clever. You may look at the front of the checking book, but there may be checks missing in the back.
Do not hesitate to change your helper if you think something suspicious is at hand. Some workers can become demanding and may negotiate unreasonable work terms, leveraging on the simple fact that their client likes them.
If the client does not complain about the caregiver, this does not mean that the caregiver is doing a "good job." The client may be afraid to complain since he/she is at the caregiver's mercy as soon as you close the door behind you.
Ensure that your helper doesn't bring other people into the house by enforcing a strict rule. Trouble often starts with too much leniency.
All we need is 24 hour’s notice.