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.

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