employment background screening, home care, caregivers, compliance

Background Checks for Caregivers

By 2020, it is estimated that fully 17% of the population will be 65 or older – that’s 50 million people who will be in need of healthcare as a whole.  And since recent AARP surveys show that about 90% of those over 55 say they plan to remain in their homes as they age, it is easy to see the pressure the healthcare system is facing.

One of the biggest challenges facing the home healthcare industry today is finding capable and qualified staff.  Currently, there are about 1.3 million home health aides in the process of entering the market, and that number is expected to grow by another 50% by 2018.  That makes the job of the home health aide or caregiver one of the fastest growing fields in the United States.

But how do you know you’re hiring a caregiver who will treat your loved one the same way you would?  Unfortunately, in many cases, you don’t.  Recently, in Loganville, Georgia, a personal care worker was charged with aggravated assault and the exploitation of a disabled adult after footage from a camera hidden by the woman’s son revealed the abuse the worker was doling out.  The video below does contain content that may not be suitable for all audiences – discretion is advised.

The sad truth is that scenarios like this one play out in countless homes and care facilities around the country, with little to no recourse unless the caregiver is caught red-handed, as was the case in the video above.  Because of this, a few states have taken action to try to mitigate the risk of hiring a personal caregiver.  In Oklahoma, for example, a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2011 allowed the state to implement the Oklahoma Long Term Care National Background Check Program, which incorporates fingerprinting and training into the screening process.  Another example is an Ohio regulation that went into effect in 2013 which makes criminal background checks for home healthcare workers more uniform, frequent, and detailed, requiring re-screens every five years.

So, what is a loving family to do when faced with the need to hire someone to care for their loved one? 

While it is admirable that some states are taking measures to strengthen the background screening process for home health caregivers, it may not be enough.  Though it gives the appearance of adding an extra layer of protection, it is important to remember that fingerprinting does not give an employer or family member a complete picture of a person’s past.  The FBI’s database only includes records that are associated with a fingerprint; in other words, if an arrest record does not include a fingerprint, it will not show up in the database.  We don’t know about you, but we’d rather not leave our loved ones’ safety up to a “maybe,”  since in 2006 the Attorney General noted that only about half of the FBI’s database included final dispositions.

Instead of relying on just one aspect of a thorough criminal background investigation, you will want to ask as many questions as possible to gather as much information as you can before hiring a caregiver to spend time with your loved one.  Whether you’re hiring independently or through an agency, here are a few questions you should ask:

  • What screenings are performed on caregivers before they are hired? Will a federal search be done, or just a state search? Is drug screening conducted?
  • How far back does the screening go? The standard is 7 years; is more needed?
  • Will the criminal report include both misdemeanors and felonies? Criminal and civil cases?
  • Can the candidate’s licensing be checked across state lines?
  • Are DMV records obtained?
  • Is the caregiver bonded and insured?

This is not an exhaustive list; in truth, many more questions could – and perhaps, should – be asked before making a hiring decision.  We at The Cedalius Group, the employment background screening provider you can trust, believe that no stone should go unturned when it comes to providing care for our loved ones.   Our Healthcare Compliance program provides healthcare sanctions information on both individuals and organizations for all 50 states.  This search meets the requirements for screening by the Office of the Inspector General’s Compliance Program, with information included from multiple federal sources.  If you have questions about how to hire the best caregiver for your loved one, please call us today at 404.963.9862 or visit us online at www.thecedaliusgroup.com

The Cedalius Group offers insight into the background screening industry for educational purposes.  We always recommend you consult with your legal counsel to determine practices that best suit your business needs.