In Part 1 we explored the unfortunately high prevalence of elder abuse; in Part 2 we will discuss how to prevent it from happening in your family.
The first step in preventing elder abuse is to ensure that the caregiver you’re hiring is trustworthy. While many home care agencies conduct background checks, there is no federal law or regulation that requires them to do so, and there is no federal law or regulation that prevents them from hiring those convicted of crimes or those with a history of abuse allegations.
Furthermore, there is often no set standard for what a caregiver background check must include. As a result, unsuitable candidates can slip through the cracks. A study by the US Department of Health and Human Services found that at least 4% of home health agency employees had at least one criminal conviction in their background; these convictions included domestic violence, sex offenses, and assault. Even more worrisome, the study found that 28% of home health agencies allowed direct-care employees to begin work even before their background checks had been conducted.
In light of these issues, having a background check conducted by an experienced private investigator can give you much more peace of mind than relying on an agency’s process or one’s own intuition. A thorough caregiver background check will include:
- Criminal background check
- Sex offender registry check
- Verification of identity, contact information, and Social Security number
- Verification of previous employment and references
- Licensing verification, if applicable
- Driving history (note that not all states make this information available for background checks)
In some cases, a thorough background check may also need to investigate unexplained gaps or discrepancies in employment or residential history.
An in-depth background check conducted by a professional investigator can help you make a smart decision in choosing the right provider to care for your elderly loved one.