How to Background Check Your Home Care Provider

Whether you are a family member trying to choose the right home care company for your loved one, or you are a provider interviewing potential applicants, background checking is critical.

Eldercare abuse comes in many forms: financial, emotional and physical.  Being proactive about the selecting a home care provider can help you avoid worry, heartache and financial and potential legal action.

Example: Check-Cashing Fraud

Within months of hiring an in-home caregiver for her two aging parents, a woman in San Diego was notified by the Sheriff’s Department that the caregiver had opened 30 credit card accounts in the parent’s name and purchased three vehicles worth $50,000 with those credit cards. In addition, the caregiver had also convinced the elderly couple to provide her with power of attorney and then managed to have them sign over ownership of their house, valued at $650,000.  Further investigation of the individual revealed she had prior convictions for check-cashing fraud 10 years ago.  However, the background check only covered the prior 7 years of criminal history.

Knowing your home care provider does background checks is just the beginning. Not all background checks are the same and not all companies exclude potentially dangerous applicants based on the same criteria.

Questions to Ask Your Home Care Provider

  • How many years back in the person’s history does the check cover?
  • Does the check reflect both criminal and civil records?
  • Does the company check licensing status across state jurisdictions?
  • Are credit reports run?
  • Are Department of Motor Vehicles records obtained?
  • Are gaps in employment history verified?
  • Do they make the phone calls to references or are they outsourced?
  • Is evidence of education provided and confirmed?
  • What criteria does the company use to deny employment?  What offenses are tolerated?

Choose the provider with the most stringent background checking protocol.  If the provider cannot answer these questions, find another provider.

New Federal Database of Dangerous Caregivers

More than two decades ago, Congress demanded that a national database be available for hospitals to check for disciplinary actions taken throughout the country against nurses, pharmacists, psychologists and other licensed health professionals.   The database became available as of March 1st but there is some skepticism regarding the thoroughness and accuracy of the records.  When the information on this federal list was compared to the individual state records, they did not match up.  The reason for this inconsistency is due to the fact that some states filed incomplete records.

Although both the state and federal agencies continue to push for strong regulations of home care providers, you need to take an active role in making sure the right questions are being asked and the screening process is up to your standards.

Photo: ivers

  • GeriCareFinder

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  • alicekalso

    Your list of questions is excellent, as well as your recommendation that families choose a provider with the most stringent protocol on background checks. Since in-home services are the fastest growing segment of the senior housing and care market, many families will benefit from this blog.

  • woodse

    I just completed a painful voyage that has resulted in having to disown my siblings all as a result of a scamming care provider. My 92 year old mother was living at home with occasional assistance from a casual friend of my brothers. She had taken over taking mother to the doctors which resulted in over medicating. Mother quickly became violent and restless which resulted in more Valium and Respiritol. There was no medication list because the care provider had her friends taking shifts that had bad history with controlled substances and they were not to know what was in the house. I was lobbying my siblings to move mother to assisted living only to learn they were too interested in preserving mothers money for their own inheritance. After disclosing the financial exposure of employing 15 separate strangers with out insurance nor paying taxes I was allowed to move mother to a professional Alzheimers facility near her home. Mother is now better than she has been in 2 years. She can walk again and is happy. My brother just paid the back taxes of the scamming care provider ($6000) and luckily there has been no other liability claims to date.

  • Ryan Malone

    Hi Woodse, Sorry to hear about your experience. This is a great example of why finding a home care company who goes above and beyond the minimum background check is so useful. Companies like HireRight do a fantastic job at this–far better than companies like EzBackground check (fictitious name). The cost for the home care provider isn't much different, so they are trying to save pennies at the expense of the family.

  • Hearth Stone Home Care

    That's why is is advisable to hire a caregiver or home care service from trusted agencies for they already did background check on their employees, looking for a free Needs Assessment? feel free to contact us.

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  • Susan Gamble

    Great list of questions here. I provide assisted living in Laconia NH and the surrounding areas and we are always sure to carry out detailed background checks on all caregivers before they are hired. To be honest, it’s probably one of the most important aspects of our business.

  • Charlie Munro

    Personally, I would never think of hiring anyone with you doing a little homework first. You can’t judge a book by its cover, smile, or they way the behave around you. Of course they are going to be sweet to you, they want you to pay them.
    People are rarely the same behind closed doors, and you can never be sure whats hidden in their closet.
    I like to be careful, and preform personal background checks on anyone I’m considering as a candidate for the job using

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  • Ryan Clearwater

    We own a in home care agency. what is very important is also background checks you need to make sure the caregiver is drug tested.

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