Caregiver Background Checks: Caring for At-Risk Populations is Critical in an Aging Population
Every day readers are inundated with glaring headlines about the challenges at-risk populations, specifically the elderly, face every day. Social Security benefits are always in jeopardy, doctor and prescription costs continue to rise, and the availability of safe, affordable housing remains difficult. But there are other headlines not always reviewed or read.
As the population of the elderly continues to grow the need for caregivers is increasingly urgent, but governmental funds are slim and out-of-pocket cost on families remains high. Subsequently, the need for low-cost caregiving is often sought. These caregivers may not be as highly trained and come with the lowest qualifications. This may lead to abuse. It is imperative that a thorough caregiver background check be performed prior to letting an individual have unsupervised time with the elderly.
One recent headline provides an example of elder abuse.
From KSTP.com (Dec. 22, 2016):
A caregiver at a Burnsville memory care facility has been charged after police say he smacked a vulnerable resident in the face...
...has been charged with fourth-degree assault and disorderly conduct. If convicted, he faces up to one year in prison and $3,000 in fines on the assault charge and up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 in fines on the disorderly conduct charge. (1)
Recent incidents in Massachusetts have brought into question the level of protective care provided toward the elderly regarding the hire of personal care attendants. As attempts continue to improve the situation there are complaints about background screening, one of the best tools that can be utilized in protecting the elderly.
From MassLive.com (Dec. 28, 17):
James Fuccione, director of legislative and public affairs for the Home Health Care Alliance of Massachusetts, which represents home care agencies, said his group encourages consumers to hire workers through an agency because of the safeguards, like background checks and training. (2)
Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com strongly advocates for rigorous background screening of all caregivers, and states: "As our population continues to age the need and importance of caregivers will continue to grow. It is critical that a thorough and complete background check be conducted, one that contains as much information that can be gained via public records and personal reference confirmation."
Elder abuse comes in many forms and families should be well aware of the different types. Some may be overlooked or held inconsequential, but each are equally disruptive and devastating to the elderly.
The Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living provides information on their website regarding elder abuse and provides the following categories:
Elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to a vulnerable elder. Elder abuse takes many forms, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse and exploitation
- Emotional or psychological abuse and neglect (including verbal abuse and threats)
Almeida states: "As costs increase more and more family members will rely on each other for elder care, either through individual efforts or hiring a caregiver. It is critical that any individual working with the elderly, an at-risk population go through an extensive and thorough background check including a criminal background check and sex offender check. As part of a complete investigation, a background check conducted by a well-qualified third-party background screening company can provide critical information required to make a well-informed decision on a critical matter."
(3) for more information on Elder Abuse please see https://acl.gov/newsroom/observances/WEAAD/docs/WEAAD-Factsheet-How-To-Answer-Tough-Questions.pdf
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